Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Into the Breach
09 January 2016

Into the Breach

Our body is laced with a network of vessels – carrying blood to feed our tissues with oxygen and manage waste. Vessels range from the biggest tube, the aorta ,with a bore of a couple of centimetres, to the tiniest fibre-like capillaries with diameters narrower than a hair’s breadth. Vessels don't like to be handled, which can result in their walls collapsing. This makes reconnecting these tiny vessels – necessary for example during transplant surgery in babies or while restoring severed limbs – a challenge, even for the most skilled vascular surgeon. Now researchers have developed a gel that can be syringed as a solid layer where microvessels will join. The gel holds the tube structure in place for easier stitching. Once completed, a light shone on the gel turns it to liquid and it disperses. Pictured is a vessel joined in this way, showing blood flow is unimpaired (highlighted in orange).

Written by Lindsey Goff

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