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New material with built-in vitamin A may reduce scarring

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016,15:24 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Washington | Scientists have developed a new biodegradable, soft elastic material with built-in vitamin A that may prevent scarring in blood vessels and the dangerous damage that follows.

While scarring is a natural part of any healing process, scar formation within our blood vessels can be deadly. The soft elastic material can be used to treat injured vessels or making medical devices, such as stents and prosthetic vascular grafts, to give them intrinsic healing properties.

Early tests have shown that the material can reduce cell migration – a major contributor to the scarring process- by 57 per cent. When injury occurs, cells proliferate and migrate into the blood vessel, creating scar-like tissue. It can create blockages that impair blood flow, said Guillermo Ameer, from Northwestern University in US.

The researchers previously demonstrated that locally applied vitamin A can significantly inhibit scarring in blood vessels. In the current study, vitamin A is integrated into the material, harnessing the beneficial properties of vitamin A and allowing for its broader application in medical devices.

The original antioxidant material is based on citric-acid and has antioxidant properties, said Robert van Lith, a postdoctoral fellow in Ameer’s lab.

It has groups that react with other acids. By using an acid form of vitamin A, we linked it directly to the material, van Lith said. This new advanced material brings together two major advantages.

Its antioxidant component can reduce the oxidative stress that leads to chronic inflammation. The vitamin A, which is released as the material degrades, can prevent or reduce scarring, researchers said.

While the previous material could be used in open-heart surgery, the new version can be used for all endovascular procedures. It can potentially also be used outside the body, such as for wound-healing bandages for diabetic patients. Since, the new material releases vitamin A as it degrades, the potential for toxic build up is much lower.

Ameer’s team can also control how quickly the material degrades and thus releases the vitamin A – depending on how the material is produced in the laboratory. Next, the team plans to explore the material’s potential for additional applications.

Vitamin A is already widely known for its anti-ageing properties, and topical antioxidants can be used to combat cell damage or improve wound healing.