Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

BPoD is 5

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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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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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