Injectable gel increases blood flow for arterial disease patients
The gel treats poor blood circulation, arising from severe peripheral artery disease, a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to leg muscles. This condition, if untreated, can result in the infection, which, in turn, could trigger the need for a limb amputation due to the development of tissue necrosis.
Treatment options are focused on improving blood flow. This is not easily achieved and currently involves the use of injections.
The research was carried out by Professor Karen Christman, who works at UC San Diego, and it involves the use of hydrogel. A hydrogel is a network of polymer chains that are hydrophilic (water-attracted). This often takes the form of a colloidal gel, where water acts as the dispersion medium.
In a research note, Dr. Christman describes the research: “we developed this new material derived from the extracellular matrix of skeletal muscle to treat the damaged muscle in peripheral artery disease patients.”
The process involves injecting the bio-gel directly into a porous and fibrous material in the damaged tissue. These techniques are also relatively more expensive than the gel procedure described.
The novel procedure has been tried out on rats, altered so they suffered from arterial disease (human trials need to take place before the method can be used on patients). With the animal trials, it was found that the use of natural scaffolding, derived from muscle tissue, led to a notable improvement in the blood flow through an increase to the diameter of the arterioles. Measurements indicated that blood flow increased to the limbs. The process also led to muscle remodeling.
The approach will now be considered for trials involving people (and research to date has yet to be published). The procedure could replace other therapies, such as attempting to get cells in arteries to grow via chemical injections. The new process could also be used to help treat a range of other diseases, such as helping to improve blood flow for those who have suffered from strokes.