Blood Vessel Mimics

Advisor: Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal
Students: Scott Herting

Picture of Blood Vessel Mimics

“Blood Vessel Mimics” (BVMs) are tissue engineered models of human blood vessels grown in vitro for the purpose of being used in preclinical evaluation of medical devices.  Cal Poly’s Tissue Engineering Lab, under the guidance of Dr. Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal, focuses on cultivating these BVMs for use as an intermediate step between traditional in vitro and in vivo evaluation of intravascular devices such as coronary stents.  Benefits of this model in the testing process include the use of human cells to create a more physiologically relevant testing environment, the ability to control and manipulate the testing environment, and the potential to reduce the number of animals necessary for device testing.

In order to cultivate BVMs, human vascular Smooth Muscle Cells (SMCs) and human Endothelial Cells (ECs) are deposited into an electrospun Poly Lactic-co-Glycolic Acid (PLGA) polymer scaffold in a bioreactor filled with media and allowed to adhere and grow.  Before being positioned in the bioreactor, the PLGA scaffolds are coated with proteins that assist in the cells’ ability to adhere to the surface.  While this process of creating BVMs has been successful, there are many aspects that can be improved and optimized.

Scott Herting, a BMED undergraduate student, has been working with Dr. Cardinal on this project since 2012.  Previous work in the lab found that not all of the cells deposited into the scaffold could be accounted for in the final product.  The effects of the protein coatings on ECs had been quantified and compared to a more expensive alternative, but the effects on SMCs was unknown.  The effect on SMCs is particularly important due to the current dual-sodding protocol, in which SMCs are deposited first and are the cell type directly in contact with the coated scaffold.  Therefore, Scott’s project involved quantifying the effects that different protein coatings have on the ability of SMCs to adhere to PLGA scaffolds.  Specifically, his work compared the effects of the coating currently in use (Conditioning Media) to the more expensive, but more well-documented alternative of ProNectinF+. 

Scott presented some of his findings at the annual BioInterface conference in October 2013.

For more information:
Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal
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