New automated technology for small diameter vascular grafts fabrication developed by Cells for Cells

  • The study, conducted by the Chilean biotech company Cells for Cells was published in Nature Communications journal.
  • The automated approach allows the assembly of bio-inspired structural configurations enabling the fabrication of small-bore grafts that exhibit mechanical response and compliance of human coronary arteries.

Global deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease are expected to reach 22.2 million in 2020 owing to an increasing aging population. Though standard treatment and best alternative for bypass surgeries are autologous vessels, the harvesting of the patient’s vessels is limited due to length, low quality tissue, and the considerable morbidity associated. On the other hand, synthetic alternatives are strongly limited for small diameter vessels because of thrombosis caused by natural vessel/blood–graft interface contact.

Different approaches have been reported proposing new strategies for the fabrication of vascular grafts using natural, synthetic and hybrid materials, from xenogeneic vessels to bioprinted alternatives. However, few of them exhibit the mechanical response to resemble a native vessel, and/or show a non-homogeneous cell seeding throughout the scaffold.

Researchers from Cells for Cells combined a mimicry of the tri-layered structure of native arteries, including the orientation of fibres in each layer and the distribution of different concentric cells with the aim of recapitulating the mechanical properties in a ready-to-use graft that can be rapidly fabricated in an automated process. The study was recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-11090-3#article-info), demonstrates the fabrication of small diameter vascular grafts using the combination of spinning techniques, which are capable of depositing fibres at defined angles and impart fibre waviness. The mechanical match to native tissue in each layer was achieved by mimicking fibre angles and tuning vessel thickness, enabling close resemblance to the deformation profile and compliance of human coronary arteries. Specific cell types can be encapsulated to impart biological function to the construct, with homogeneous distributions in concentric gelatin-alginate layers. Juan-Pablo Acevedo, the senior author of the project, clarifies that ” the advances we bring to the vascular graft field reside in both its cost-effectiveness and scalability, since the final product is presented as a ready-to-use biohybrid graft. We designed this technology to efficiently address the unmet medical need allowing the accelerated patients’ access to our grafts”.

“We feel very proud of the world-class R&D being developed in Cells for Cells. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on finding adequate solutions targeting diseases for which no treatment is available. While there is still a long translational pathway ahead, this milestone represents an important step towards completing our vision as a leading biotech company with international renown in research, development and commercialization of cutting-edge cell therapy technologies. We believe that they will be accessible to a large part of the population in the coming future”, says Maroun Khoury, CSO of Cells for Cells.