A minimally invasive method of delivering growth factor to regrow blood vessels, which could be used to treat heart disease has been developed by a University of Pittsburgh professor.
Yadong Wang is a professor in the Department of Bioengineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering and the Department of Surgery in the University's School of Medicine.
When Wang and his colleagues injected their growth factor compound under the skin of mice, they saw something amazing: New blood vessels grew, and large ones, not just tiny capillaries.
"We had structures that resembled arterioles-small arteries that lead to a network of capillaries," stated Wang.
Moreover, the structures stuck around. At least a month later, after only one injection of the growth factor complex, the new blood vessels were still there.
Once a heart attack has happened, the patient generally has two choices: Get a stent to open the blockage, or have surgery to bypass it.
The heart tries to heal itself, but its self-remodelling efforts can have deleterious effects, like dilating ventricles until they're too big.
"If we can use growth factors to reverse that kind of adverse remodelling process, then we can probably rescue the heart function, which is the most important thing," noted Wang.
The study has published this week in the Aug. 1 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.