Researchers at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have developed a hydrogel patch system that allows for the sophisticated sequential release of growth factors that stimulate angiogenesis. The sequential cascade of growth factors mimics the body’s natural process, and researchers hope the technology can provide regenerative efficacy in ischemic diseases, such as a myocardial infarction.
Ischemic disease carries a huge chronic burden for patients and healthcare providers. Treatments that can help restore blood flow to ischemic tissue represent a promising way to help reduce or reverse the damage caused by ischemic disease. Therefore, researchers are working on various smart ways to achieve this.
However, blood vessel growth, known as angiogenesis, is somewhat complex as it involves different growth factors that are active at different stages of the process. Simply administering one growth factor, or several at a time, is unlikely to result in functional and mature blood vessels. Therefore, providing different growth factors in the affected area at different times is a more promising approach.
This latest technology developed at POSTECH faces this challenge. These are microparticles made from mussel adhesive protein and hyaluronic acid. The researchers loaded the particles with platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), which is involved in end-stage angiogenesis.
The team suspended the particles in a viscous, adhesive hydrogel, which also contained mussel adhesive protein, and mixed endothelial growth factor (VEGF) into the gel, an early-stage angiogenic growth factor. The finished gel allows sequential release of VEGF and PDGF in a manner that provides enhanced angiogenic efficacy when administered as a patch to the surface of ischemic tissues or as a bioglu. The gel releases VEGF first to initiate angiogenesis and then PDGF then to help mature the growing vessels.
To date, POSTECH researchers have tested the gel on models of myocardial infarction and skin damage in rats. They observed that it could stimulate the growth of functional vasculature and that it had a regenerative efficacy in ischemic tissue.
“We have developed a new platform that can effectively manage angiogenic factors spatiotemporally by using the formulation property of mussel adhesive protein, an original biomaterial,” said Hyung Joon Cha, a researcher involved in the study, through ‘a press release. “This platform may play a key role in the neovascularization treatment market, as it uses biocompatible biomaterials that are harmless to the human body.”