Growing blood vessels in a lab for human use may sound like a futuristic dream. However, Mayo Clinic researchers are seeking to do just that to advance a regenerative approach to coronary bypass graft surgery. Through a Regenerative Medicine Minnesota grant, a Mayo research team is developing tissue that could grow into a blood vessel to be used in place of a patient’s own blood vessels to complete the heart bypass.
Coronary artery disease, also known as ischemic heart disease or coronary heart disease, is caused by narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. Standard of care surgery relies on harvesting a vessel from the patient to create a bridge around the obstructed coronary vessel and restore normal blood flow. This approach, however, increases a patient’s surgical time and can result in increased pain and potential complications.
“Ischemic heart disease affects over 130,000 Minnesotans,” says Leigh Griffiths, Ph.D., MRCVS. “Through our research, we are developing and exploring a safe and effective vessel replacement for use in coronary artery bypass graft procedures to overcome limitations associated with current approaches.”
Using a tissue engineered vessel grown in a lab eliminates the need to take a vessel from the patient’s own leg, arm or chest — that’s one, instead of two surgeries, for the patient.
“Our previous research has developed animal-derived biomaterials that are manipulated to allow patients bodies to accept them as their own.” says Dr. Griffiths. “Importantly, such biomaterials are highly regenerative as they contain coding information that helps body heal. These coding signals guide pro-regenerative responses, which ultimately result in the biomaterial being replaced by the patient’s own tissue.”
As principal investigator of the Cardiovascular Engineering Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Griffiths leads a team dedicated to improving treatment of cardiovascular disease through discoveries in transplant immunology, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Their ongoing research may have diagnostic and therapeutic implications for patients with congenital cardiovascular defects, heart valve disease, aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection, heart transplant, peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease.
Lab Website: Vascular Tissue Engineering Research Laboratory