‘Human Textiles’ Made from Cells Could Have Huge Impact on Blood Vessel Repair

A team of researchers from France have succeeded in creating a “human textile” extracellular matrix that could add a significant tool to the tissue repair arsenal.

“In the field of tissue engineering, many groups have come to rely on the extracellular matrix produced by cells as the scaffold that provides structure and strength to the engineered tissue,” the team wrote in their abstract. “We have previously shown that sheets of Cell-Assembled extracellular Matrix (CAM), which are entirely biological yet robust, can be mass-produced for clinical applications using normal, adult, human fibroblasts.”

The study, published in Acta Biomaterialia, described how the team was able to cultivate human cells to get extracellular matrix deposits high in collagen. The team then cut these extracellular matrix sheets to form a “yarn” from them, which can then be sewn or braided or knitted into any number of forms. The upshot, one of the authors explained, is that the matrix sheets can be used to repair or replace blood vessels.

“By combining this truly “bio” material with a textile-based assembly, this original tissue engineering approach is highly versatile and can produce a variety of strong human textiles that can be readily integrated in the body,” co-author and Inserm researcher Nicolas L’Heureux, said in a press release.

The authors wrote that they had succeeded in creating woven tissue-engineered vascular grafts that were not only adequate for clinical standards, but surpassed requirements for burst pressure, suture retention strength, and transmural permeability. According to a news release, the chief advantage of this therapy would be that the implants would be well-tolerated by all patients, given that collagen does not vary between individuals, and therefore would not be rejected by the body as foreign substances. The authors noted that they plan to pursue this technique and study further in animal trials, leading eventually (upon success, it is hoped) to clinical trials.

“This novel strategy holds the promise of a next generation of medical textiles that will be mechanically strong without any foreign scaffolding, and will have the ability to truly integrate into the host’s body,” they concluded.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Nicholas L’Heureux