Small-diameter vascular tissue engineering

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Vascular occlusion remains the leading cause of death in Western countries, despite advances made in balloon angioplasty and conventional surgical intervention. Vascular surgery, such as CABG surgery, arteriovenous shunts, and the treatment of congenital anomalies of the coronary artery and pulmonary tracts, requires biologically responsive vascular substitutes. Autografts, particularly saphenous vein and internal mammary artery, are the gold-standard grafts used to treat vascular occlusions. Prosthetic grafts have been developed as alternatives to autografts, but their low patency owing to short-term and intermediate-term thrombosis still limits their clinical application. Advances in vascular tissue engineering technology—such as self-assembling cell sheets, as well as scaffold-guided and decellularized-matrix approaches—promise to produce responsive, living conduits with properties similar to those of native tissue. Over the past decade, vascular tissue engineering has become one of the fastest-growing areas of research, and is now showing some success in the clinic.

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