University of Ottawa Heart Institute Scientists Successfully Develop Novel Biomaterial to Help Grow New Blood Vessels

    OTTAWA, Jan. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Researchers at the University of Ottawa
Heart Institute (UOHI) have successfully grown blood vessels in damaged muscle
tissue by injecting a biomaterial developed specifically to attract new cells
and support regeneration. Blood vessel regeneration suggests that the body's
own cells might one day be used to repair heart damage and restore function.
    Details of the regeneration process were published online in the Journal
of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
( A UOHI cardiac
surgery research team led by Erik Suuronen, PhD, in collaboration with Dr.
Marc Ruel, showed that thigh muscles with ischemia (lack of blood flow and
oxygen) grew a significant number of new blood vessels when treated with the
    "Our goal is to develop safe and effective treatments for coronary artery
disease by helping the body rebuild blood vessels and improve heart function.
We see this is a breakthrough that may also positively impact diseases such as
diabetes, some disorders of the liver and chronic brain ischemia," said
Suuronen, principal investigator of the study and research scientist in UOHI's
division of cardiac surgery.
    The novel biomaterial developed by the Heart Institute combines a
collagen protein and a molecule known as sialyl Lewisx. The biomaterial forms
a biological platform, or 'smart scaffold,' which serves as a mechanism to
support cell growth. When injected into damaged muscle, the scaffold attracts
special types of cells in the bloodstream called progenitor cells. In turn,
the progenitor cells send out homing signals that call other cells to join
them in growing new blood vessels.
    Until now, cell therapy has shown only modest improvement in helping to
restore blood flow and functionality in a failing heart. The challenge has
been to set up a natural magnet or 'homing device' to attract cells long
enough for them to survive and grow. With the new biomaterial, the Heart
Institute approach does just that by imitating and enhancing the natural
process of blood vessel formation in the body.
    "The concept of using cell therapy to rebuild blood vessels in and around
the heart is proving to be the next frontier in cardiac medicine. This
landmark development clearly represents a major step forward in adding to our
ability to cure heart failure," said Dr. Ruel, Director, Cardiac Surgery
Research, UOHI.
    Heart Institute research showed that when compared with scaffold made
from the collagen alone, the hind thigh muscles in rats treated with the smart
scaffolding had more new blood vessels and improved function after a two-week
    This latest scientific result from the Heart Institute is part of an
emerging global research effort known as regenerative medicine. Regenerative
medicine is exploring revolutionary approaches to engineering the reversal of
disease and damage in the human body. Scientists in a new collaboration with
physicians are learning how to rebuild tissue the way the body does - one cell
at a time. At the Heart Institute, regenerative therapies hold significant
promise for reversing advanced heart failure.
    Other UOHI scientists are exploring blood vessel formation at the
molecular level. Researchers at the Heart Institute's Ruddy Canadian
Cardiovascular Genetics Centre have discovered a genetic factor that plays a
key role in how this process works within the body. Their goal is to identify
genes that contribute to the formation of blood vessels.
    Techniques to rebuild blood vessels are also part of a large, diverse
UOHI program in cellular and molecular research. The research project in
cardiac surgery was supported in part by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

    About UOHI

    The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is Canada's largest and foremost
cardiovascular health centre dedicated to understanding, treating and
preventing heart disease. We deliver high-tech care with a personal touch,
shape the way cardiovascular medicine is practiced, and revolutionize cardiac
treatment and understanding. We build knowledge through research and translate
discoveries into advanced care. We serve the local, national and international
community, and are pioneering a new era in heart health. For more information,

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Marlene Orton, Senior Manager, Public Affairs,
University of Ottawa Heart Institute, (613) 761-4427,

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Ottawa Heart Institute, University of Ottawa

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