The future of personalized medicine: Technion team built blood tree

Skin flaps, bone grafts, implanted tissue – recent advances in medicine have changed the face of surgery in relation to autologous – that is, self-transplants.

While extensive organ damage once meant an almost safe amputation or the need for an external transplant, today’s science focuses on harvesting cells and tissues from your own body to complete the injured pieces of the puzzle by using grafts and flaps to around the skin, vessels, tubes and bones.

However, ask any surgeon trying to insert a flap and they would tell you that the most important – and limiting – component of a transplant’s success is an adequate blood supply.

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if (window.location.pathname.indexOf (“656089”)! = -1) {document.getElementsByClassName (“divConnatix”)[0].style.display = “none”;} else if (window.location.pathname.indexOf (“/ israel-news /”)! = -1) {document.getElementsByClassName (“divConnatix”)[0].style.display = “none”; var script = document.createElement (‘script’); script.src = “”; script.setAttribute (‘pubname’, ‘jpostcom’); script.setAttribute (‘Widgetname’, ‘0011r00001lcD1i_12258’); document.getElementsByClassName (‘divAnyClip’)[0].appendChild (script);} else if (window.location.pathname.indexOf (“/ health-and-wellness /”)! = -1) {document.getElementsByClassName (“divConnatix”)[0].style.display = “none”; var script = document.createElement (‘script’); script.src = “”; script.setAttribute (‘pubname’, ‘jpostcom’); script.setAttribute (‘Widgetname’, ‘0011r00001lcD1i_12246’); document.getElementsByClassName (‘divAnyClip’)[0].appendChild (script);} A team of researchers at Technion recently found a way to meet this need. For the first time, these scientists have succeeded in 3D printing a network of large and small blood vessels that, like the human body, could supply implanted tissue with blood.

The ability of the body to form a suitable hierarchy in the blood vessel tree has not yet been able to be imitated by medicine. In our body, the heart pumps blood into a large tube called the aorta, which is about 2-3 cm in diameter. The blood vessels then branch into smaller and smaller tubes, which correspond to the needs and capacity of the respective organ, until they reach tiny arterioles of only 5 to 10 micrometers.

Circulatory system of the human body showing the heart and blood vessels (Image: FLICKR)Dr. Ariel Alejandro Szklanny of the Technion team led by Professor Shulamit Levenberg, a specialist in tissue engineering, found a way to use 3D printing to form a system that was a functional combination of both large and small vessels contains.

The new breakthrough could make it possible to manufacture a tissue flap in a laboratory that is already connected to a blood network adapted to its size and function.

Currently, transplanted grafts must be implanted in a healthy part of the body so that the patient can create new blood vessels to support them; then the graft is relocated to an affected area as healthy tissue.

The new technique could potentially eliminate this intermediate step, dramatically improve recovery times, and reduce the number of procedures a patient would have to undergo.

In his recently published study in Advanced Materials, Dr. Szklanny how he created a polymer scaffold filled with small holes that mimicked the large blood vessels of the body. These holes made it possible to connect smaller ships to the larger ships that were constructed. Using bio-collagen ink, the team then printed and assembled a complex network around and within the main framework and later covered it with endothelial cells (human blood vessel lining). A week later, the incubated artificial apparatus connected to the cells in a hierarchical structure like the human blood vessel tree.

While previous studies in the field used animal collagen, the Technion team used engineered tobacco plants developed by the Israeli company CollPlant.

The mesh was transplanted into a study rat and attached to the major artery in its leg. The blood through the artery distributes itself through the network just as it does in the body, transporting oxygen and nutrients to the distant parts of the implanted tissue, without any leakage.

This achievement is an important tool in the world of personalized medicine and could represent a huge leap forward in tissue engineering and treatment.

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