March 6, 2023 - Podcast

Episode 350 — Critical blood vessel discovery

Researchers from the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering (ICRME) have identified a new type of cell in the human and mouse body called the vasculogenic fibroblast that provides critical insight into how new blood vessels can be made when needed for treatment.

Blood vessels are created by endothelial cells -- which make up the lining of blood vessels -- but researchers found a different kind of cell, the vasculogenic fibroblast, can also make new blood vessels and achieve blood flow to organs suffering from low blood supply.  

Ischemic diseases are caused by poor blood supply—diabetic wounds being one of them, says IU's Chandan Sen, a distinguished professor of surgery and associate vice president of military and applied research at IU School of Medicine and director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering.

Growing blood vessels to treat ischemic disease and arresting growth of blood vessels to limit tumor growth requires complete understanding of how blood vessels are made in the body, he says. The discovery of physiologic vasculogenic fibroblasts unveils a critical piece of the puzzle that would help targeted therapies.

Researchers observed vasculogenic fibroblasts in human patients. When someone is injured, the body starts developing vasculogenic fibroblasts that make new blood vessels to heal tissue. But in some patients, such as those with diabetes, the ability to make these specialized cells is blunted. In lab models, Sen and the research team used their tissue nanotransfection technology for tissue reprogramming to replenish vasculogenic fibroblasts in diabetic tissue. This led to improved blood flow and improved diabetic wound closure.

Not only did this work identify a cell that has always quietly functioned in the body, Sen says, researchers can also use tissue nanotransfection technology and vasculogenic tissue reprogramming to make these cells and rescue tissues affected by poor blood supply.

Tissue nanotransfection technology and regenerative medicine, which seeks to replace or regenerate human cells, tissue and organs, is a growing industry around the world and in Indiana. Sen says innovative technology is continuing to show promise in providing simple and effective treatment for many different health concerns in many different situations.