ANN ARBOR—One of the major obstacles to growing new organs—replacement hearts, lungs and kidneys—is the difficulty researchers face in building blood vessels that keep the tissues alive, but new findings from the University of Michigan could help overcome this roadblock.
“It’s not just enough to make a piece of tissue that functions like your desired target,” said Andrew Putnam, U-M associate professor of biomedical engineering. “If you don’t nourish it with blood by vascularizing it, it’s only going to be as big as the head of a pen.
“But we need a heart that’s this big,” he added, holding up his fist.
More immediately, doctors and researchers believe figuring out how to grow working blood vessels might offer treatments for diseases that affect the circulatory system such as diabetes. Perhaps the right drug or injection could save patients’ feet from amputation.
Putnam and his colleagues have revealed why one of the leading approaches to building blood vessels isn’t consistently working: It’s making leaky tubes. They also demonstrated how adult stem cells could solve this problem. A paper on the findings is published online in Tissue Engineering Part A, and will appear in a forthcoming print edition.
Today, biomedical researchers are taking two main approaches to growing new capillaries, the smallest blood vessels and those responsible for exchanging oxygen, carbon dioxide and nutrients between blood and muscles or organs.
One group of researchers is developing drug compounds that would signal existing vessels to branch into new tributaries. These compounds—generally protein growth factors—mimic how cancerous tumor cells recruit blood vessels.
BME Ph.D. candidate Ram Rao is one of two recipients of the 2013 RPM Ventures Student Entrepreneur of the Year award! In 2010, Rao co-founded STIgma Free Diagnostics, a medical device company dedicated to developing a rapid at-home test for the detection of common sexually transmitted diseases. Ram is a member of BME Professor Jan Stegemann’s CMITE lab. Congratulations, Ram and keep up the great work!
Read more about the award and Ram here: http://bit.ly/Y8otjF
Two Biomedical Engineering students were among the the 2013 recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Awards sponsored by the Rackham Graduate School. Sakib Elahi and William Lloyd, both took home the 2013 Outstanding GSI award. Sakib has been the GSI for BME 231, 241, and 458 and Bill was GSI for BME 450, 499, and 241. Sakib and Bill are both members of BME Professor Mary-Ann Mycek’s Biomedical Optics Laser Laboratory. The awards ceremony that will honor these talented teachers will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in the Rackham Amphitheater with a public reception to follow.