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New Synthetic Blood Vessels to Better Treat Cardiovascular Disease

Associate Professor Steven Wise, Institution: University of Sydney

2021 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2022-2025

Cardiovascular disease causes blockages of arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary) and the lower legs (peripheral). Surgical bypass with donor vessels from the patient is the most effective treatment, but these are not always available, leaving surgeons reliant on synthetic materials. Existing commercial materials are made from common plastics like Gore-tex (rain jackets) and PET (drink bottles) and unfortunately, they perform very poorly. With no new materials reaching clinical practice for more than 6 decades, new alternatives are urgently needed.

Associate Professor Steven Wise's team have identified the strong potential of silk fibroin, a natural biomaterial. His team have demonstrated that silk can be engineered to have tailored mechanical properties, outperforming Gore-tex in long-term pre-clinical models. This project will determine the best combination of physical and biological properties for a small diameter silk conduit, aiming to provide a cell-free, off-the-shelf synthetic graft that would revolutionise the treatment of coronary and peripheral artery disease.

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