Nav: Home

'Fixing' blood vessel cells to diagnose blood clotting disorders

August 09, 2016

(BOSTON) -- When in dysfunction, the vascular endothelium -- the tissue that lines the blood vessels throughout our body's entire circulatory system -- plays a big role in the development of many human diseases, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, viral infections and cancer. This is because endothelial cells are sensitive to blood flow and also interact with blood cells through molecules on their surface, so that blood coagulation and platelet function are modulated. In normal 'hemostasis', the endothelium prevents deadly blood loss and clot formation. However, dysfunction or inflammation of the endothelium may result in aberrant blood coagulation inside the vessels, leading to life-threatening blockages or hemorrhage.

"Abnormal blood coagulation and platelet activation are major medical problems and the ways we study them now are overly simplified," said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children's Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Clinicians currently do not have tools to monitor hemostasis that take into account physiologically-important interactions between endothelial cells and flowing blood."

Until now, the crucial interface between endothelial cells and circulating blood has not been accurately replicated in a practical diagnostic device, due to the challenge of incorporating living endothelial cells into a robust testing tool.

Now, a team led by Ingber at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has discovered that endothelial cells need not be 'living' in order to confer their effects on blood coagulation. A new device developed by the team, published in August in the journal Biomedical Microdevices, could monitor blood clot formation and diagnose effectiveness of anti-platelet therapy, by microengineering tiny hollow channels lined by chemically 'fixed' human endothelial cells that more closely mimic cellular and vascular flow conditions inside a patient's body than a bare surface.

"It's a bioinspired device that contains the endothelial function of a diseased patient without having actual living cells, and this greatly increases the robustness of the device," said the study's first author Abhishek Jain, Ph.D., a former Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow who has recently been appointed Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University.

This blood coagulation diagnostic can even be used to study the effects of endothelial inflammation on the formation of blood clots, which is highly relevant in patients suffering from atherosclerosis, a chronic disease that builds up plaque leading to hardening and narrowing of blood vessels.

"This is one of the first examples of how a microfluidic cell culture system could have added value in clinical diagnostics," said study co-author Andries van der Meer, Ph.D., a former Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow who is now Assistant Professor in Applied Stem Cell Technologies at University of Twente, The Netherlands. "Using chemically fixed tissue that is no longer alive offers a clear, low-risk path toward further testing and product development."

A previous study by Ingber and his team showed that recreating the physicality and blood flow of vasculature within microfluidic channels allowed them to predict precise times that blood might clot, with potential applications in real-time monitoring of patients receiving intravenous anticoagulants in order to prevent complications such as stroke and vascular occlusion. Their latest device adds another layer of complexity by embedding the functionality of the vascular endothelium within a diagnostic tool that might be manufactured, stored and shipped for clinical use, which was never before considered possible.

"Our efforts to mimic the vascular system in a meaningful way within a microfluidic device has led to two avenues of technology development, which could potentially be combined in the future to develop portable tools suited for diagnosing and even discovering what disease states lead to blood clotting," said Ingber. "Together they represent a new suite of physiologically-relevant microdevices that incorporate critical mechanical cues, and which could have near-term impact on our understanding and prevention of dysfunctional hemostasis."
-end-
MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE

PRESS CONTACT

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
Kat J. McAlpine, katherine.mcalpine@wyss.harvard.edu, +1 617-432-8266

MULTIMEDIA CONTACT

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
Seth Kroll, seth.kroll@wyss.harvard.edu, +1 617-432-7758

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University uses Nature's design principles to develop bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing that are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and formation of new startups. The Wyss Institute creates transformative technological breakthroughs by engaging in high risk research, and crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers, working as an alliance that includes Harvard's Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Arts & Sciences and Design, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Zurich and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

Related Blood Flow Articles:

Blood flow monitor could save lives
A tiny fibre-optic sensor has the potential to save lives in open heart surgery, and even during surgery on pre-term babies.
Changes in blood flow tell heart cells to regenerate
Altered blood flow resulting from heart injury switches on a communication cascade that reprograms heart cells and leads to heart regeneration in zebrafish.
Blood flow command center discovered in the brain
An international team of researchers has discovered a group of cells in the brain that may function as a 'master-controller' for the cardiovascular system, orchestrating the control of blood flow to different parts of the body.
Researchers closer to new Alzheimer's therapy with brain blood flow discovery
By discovering the culprit behind decreased blood flow in the brain of people with Alzheimer's, biomedical engineers at Cornell University have made possible promising new therapies for the disease.
In vitro grafts increase blood flow in infarcted rat hearts
Advances in stem cell research offer hope for treatments that could help patients regrow heart muscle tissue after heart attacks, a key to patients achieving more complete recoveries.
Balloon-guided catheters provide better blood flow following stroke interventions
Patients who have experienced a stroke as a result of blockages of the arteries in the brain have better outcomes with the use of balloon-guided catheter surgery as compared to having a conventional guided catheter procedure.
Scientists developed new contactless method of measuring blood flow in hands
Russian researchers proposed a new contactless method for measuring blood flow in the upper limbs.
Researchers investigate correlation between blood flow and body position
For the first time ever, an international research group detected alterations in capillary blood flow around the face caused by body position change.
Restoring blood flow may be best option to save your life and limb
Amputation for severe blockages in the lower limbs has a lower survival rate than other treatment options that restore blood flow.
Blood flow in the heart revealed in a flash
Researchers at Linköping University have for the first time been able to use information from computer tomography images to simulate the heart function of an individual patient.
More Blood Flow News and Blood Flow Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab