Scientists Have Discovered How to Create Artificial Arteries for Drug Testing

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Researchers have developed a new way to perform crucial drug testing without having to perform the sometimes dangerous tests on humans.

Human drug trials can be both ineffective and deadly. But the reality is science doesn’t need whole humans, it just needs their tissue to perform the necessary and important work. Thanks to Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, we may now have a way to separate one from the other.

Published in Scientific reports, the Pratt School reports that it has found a new way to make blood cells in a matter of hours. It’s a big advancement considering that it takes weeks for the body to regenerate the completed and layered structure. The new technique not only speeds up the artificial blood vessel generation process but moves us one step closer to quickly building organs.

The process works by first suspending cells in collagen gel, then removing water from the collagen. This compresses the cells, resulting in strengthened artificial blood vessels. The next major step is shrinking the process itself, making blood vessels smaller than our actual human ones. This turns the blood vessel from its goopy presentation to usable test material.

To test whether or not the artificial material would react similarly to actual human tissue, researchers began testing known drugs on the vessels, including acetylcholine, which dilates blood vessels, and phenylephrine, which causes vessels to constrict. The tests had their desired result, and now the scientists want to use the vessels to determine if genetically related diseases can react to drugs the way they do in human bodies.

If it works, scientists can perform drug trials on the artificial material before ever touching a real human body.