The researchers used materials derived from seaweed to improve synthetic vascular grafts.

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo and the Oregon Health and Science University has developed a new approach to create synthetic vascular grafts for bypass surgery. The addition of natural materials derived from seaweed stimulates the growth of vascular cells and prevents the formation of blood clots.

The researchers added a material called fucoidan, made from seaweed, to modify synthetic blood vessels. This substance has a structure similar to heparin, a drug used as an anticoagulant (preventing thrombosis).

The smallest particles of fucoidan applied using the micropattern technique promote the growth of vascular cells around the inner surface of the graft, significantly reducing the likelihood of blood clots.

Bypass surgery is performed to restore blood flow to the areas of the heart when blood vessels are blocked. Vessels taken from the patient himself are considered the gold standard for such operations, but the limited availability of materials often requires the use of artificial vessels.

When the synthetic graft material does not allow vascular cells to grow inside an artery or vessel, there is a high probability of blood clots forming, which can develop into a complete blockage or cause inflammation that restricts blood flow, scientists explain.

The use of the new material reduces the potential number of complications and the likelihood of recurrence of blockage requiring additional medical treatment or surgical intervention.

Image: Yuan Yao et al., Bioactive Materials - Modification scheme (top) and change in blood flow after installing an artificial vessel in a rabbit. (Alexander Sheremetyev)

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