Researchers at the University of California have created an artificial blood vessel that can be used to study both the application and effects of devices used to extract life-threatening blood clots in the brain.
The artificial vessel could have significant implications for future development of endovascular technologies, including reducing the need for animal models to test new devices or approaches.
"This work offers significant promise going forward," said Dr. Alexander Khalessi, director of endovascular neurosurgery and surgical director of neurocritical care at the University of California - San Diego Health System. "The artificial model could represent a practical, scalable and physiological alternative to existing technologies," Khalessi noted.
For example, in treating cerebrovascular disease that covers a group of dysfunctions related to blood supply to the brain, doctors in certain cases must perform endovascular thrombectomies where they mechanically remove the emboli or clots.
The rate of endovascular thrombectomies is rising, but the approach, which typically involves running a catheter to the site of the blockage and using one of several marketed devices to remove the clot, can be improved, Khalessi said.
Current pre-clinical analyses of new therapeutic approaches or devices is limited to either in vitro glass or plastic tubing testing intended to mimic biological counterparts or by using animal models, such as pigs.
"Both of these have significant drawbacks," Khalessi said. The researchers developed a novel in vitro live-cell platform that allows direct visual characterization of effects and injury patterns to endothelial cells (ECs).
They tested various clot-retrieval devices and examined the post-removal effects.
"We found that the in vitro platform permitted high-resolution quantification and characterization of the pattern and timing of EC injury with various thrombectomy devices and vessel diameters. The devices each displayed different effects," Khalessi noted.
The researchers subsequently validated their in vitro findings with in vivo testing. The findings were published in the online issue of the journal Stroke