We’ve all eaten rich meals or fatty foods and joked that we can feel our ‘arteries hardening’. However, the reality of atherosclerosis – when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the artery walls and form solid structures called plaques – is no joking matter. The consequences of this disorder can include stroke and coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in many developed countries.
Now, a new scientific project involving Barcelona’s Institute for Bioengineering of Catalunya (IBEC) —founded by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Autonomous Government of Catalonia), the Technical University of Catalonia UPC. BarcelonaTech (UPC) the University of Barcelona (UB) — and three other European research centres is set to offer a novel, minimally-invasive treatment for atherosclerosis patients, thanks to funding awarded by the European Commission.
THE GRAIL (Tissue in Host Engineering Guided Regeneration of Arterial Intimal Layer) project has been granted FP7 EU funds to develop bioactive and bioresorbable scaffolds that locally regenerate arteries after endovascular treatment in patients with atherosclerosis.
The concept of THE GRAIL project is the creation of an in vivo deployable bioactive scaffold to treat atherosclerosis. Arterial obstruction due to arteriosclerosis is the cause of a wide spectrum of diseases, disabilities and death.
The purpose of the in vivo deployable bioactive scaffold is to offer an alternative treatment to mechanical re-channelling or by-passing of obstructed arteries by using a regenerative approach compatible with current minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Regeneration of the diseased artery using an absorbable bioactive scaffold is a previously unexplored area of arterial obstruction therapy.
The scaffold is intended to be repopulated by resident and circulating patient cells with the aim of replacing the diseased and stiffened area of artery with the scaffold, which drives arterial regeneration, leaving physiologically responsive regenerated tissue.
The bio/non-bio interactions for regenerative medicine research group from IBEC, led by Prof. Dr. Josep Anton Planell, focuses on the development of substrate materials that deliver to stem cells the appropriate and specific biological signals able to trigger and guide cell activity for tissue regeneration
This project gathers together a multidisciplinary team of four research centres: Univ. of Liverpool (UK), Univ. of Valladolid (Spain), Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (Spain) and the Biomaterial Centre of the Univ. of Naples Federico II (Italy); one clinical centre, University Medical Centre of Utrecht; and, four SMEs: Explora Biotech, Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology, Conic Vascular Technology and Donawa Lifescience Consulting.