Heart failure affects over 900,000 people in the UK. It occurs when the muscle in the heart weakens, and fails to pump a sufficient amount of blood around the body. In situations like this, engineering new heart muscle in a laboratory could substitute damaged tissue; however, a barrier to its success has been the ability to grow an intricate network of blood vessels to support the growth and development of the new tissue. For the first time, researchers recently managed to manipulate endothelial progenitor cells obtained from blood to generate a 3D network of blood vessels to heart muscle cells (green fluorescence) within a gel derived from blood platelets. The gel also contained many different growth factors, allowing existing blood vessels to form links (red fluorescence) with the newly generated blood vessels. Building on this technique could lead to great progress in the field of regenerative medicine.
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