The focus of the Christopher Breuer lab is to design a tissue engineered vascular graft (TEVG) that can be used during surgery that, over time transitions to a normal blood vessel that will grow with our pediatric patients.
Our goal is to use these TEVGs in surgeries that repair our complex congenital heart patients. And because they transition to a normal blood vessel, they could potentially reduce the number of future surgeries these patients would have due to the graft material not growing.
The process of creating and implanting a TEVG involves placing the scaffold in a vacuum and seeding it with cells obtained from the patient’s bone marrow at the beginning of surgery and then placing the graft.
Over the next six months, the body acts as a bioreactor to grow a new vessel, and the scaffold disintegrates. When they started, they assumed that the cells that were seeded onto the scaffold made the resulting vessel, but surprisingly, they found the host cells were the ones that made the vessel.