Tranquillo Group, University of Minnesota
A University of Minnesota Twin Cities-led research team recently received a $3.7 million grant to prepare for a human clinical trial of artificial, bioengineered vessels that grow with the patient unlike current vessel grafts that need to be replaced several times. If these grafts are successful, they would eliminate the need for repeat surgeries in children with congenital heart defects.
The research team will work with UMN startup Vascudyne, Inc., which will manufacture the vessel-like tubes. These tubes are grown in a lab using donated skin cells, which are later removed to minimize the chance of rejection. Once implanted, the tube will be repopulated by the recipient's cells, which will allow it to grow.
If these trials are successful, the research team hopes to move toward clinical trials involving bioartificial pediatric heart valves constructed from these tubes that grow with the recipient. This technology could ultimately help the thousands of children who are born with heart valve defects annually.
Vascudyne was founded in 2015 and utilizes the regenerative engineered tissue technology developed by Robert Tranquillo, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science who is also involved in the vessel grafts research. In December, the company announced it had raised $10 million in a Series A funding round.