The artery looks like a short piece of spaghetti, and the research team from University College London claims that it can help in reducing chances of a heart attack during bypass surgery.
Professor George Hamilton from the Royal Free Hospital in North-West London said, “The new graft pulses rhythmically to match the beat of the heart. The graft material is strong, flexible, resistant to blood clotting and doesn't break down, which is a major breakthrough.”
“This will be hugely beneficial to patients as we will be able to reduce the number of heart attacks, reduce amputations and ultimately save lives,” he added.
Using nanotechnology to create the artery
Professor Alexander Seifalian from the University College London, who headed the research, used nanotechnology and polymer material to develop the tiny bypass graft.
The artificial artery has a coating of millions of tiny spikes, each one of which is thousands of times smaller than the size of a human hair.
Study of controlling matter on an atomic and molecular scale coupled with use of nanotechnology enables the spikes to magnetize stem cells or ‘master cells’ from the blood.
“Once the stem cells are attracted to it, they cover the whole inside of it and turn into endothelial cells,” informs Professor Alexander Seifalian.
The artificial artery's benefit for heart patients
It may be noted that a blood vein is needed to divert blood around narrow and clogged blood vessels, during a heart bypass operation.
Thousands of heart patients in need of a bypass surgery lack a healthy blood vessel that is suitable for grafting and are thus left at an increased chance of suffering a heart attack during surgery.
Plastic arteries that are available for grafting form clots and are not flexible enough to thump with the heart. This is where the new invention comes in.
The spaghetti shaped artery not only helps stop blood clotting but it also saves the need of a second operation performed during the normal bypass surgery for obtaining a vein.
Human trials to begin soon
The researcher team has received a £500,000 grant from the ‘Wellcome Trust’, a medical research charity, for commencing human trials that are expected to begin this year.
And if these trials are triumphant, it would benefit more than 28,000 Britons who undergo operations each year to widen blocked and narrowed arteries.
“We welcome this interesting development, which could potentially be of enormous benefits to patients who need a bypass operation to treat their coronary heart disease,” concluded Judy O'Sullivan from the British Heart Foundation.