Smooth Muscle Cells for Vascular Engineering
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In the first decade of this century, ever-increasing scientific and technological advances are revolutionizing our approaches to developing therapies that bring about the promise of personalized medicine and the possibility of regenerative interventions. Multidisciplinary research has led to a better understanding of four key areas of scientific and technological knowledge that are essential to the development of such innovative therapies for cardiovascular disease: (1) increased understanding of normal development and cell differentiation processes in vivo; (2) elucidating signaling pathways involved in these processes; (3) uncovering new technological approaches that can efficiently mimic these processes in vitro; and (4) most importantly, the identification and characterization of adequate sources of precursor cells that serve as the starting material for regenerative undertakings.
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A normal vasculature is crucial for maintaining homeostasis and providing the necessary nutrients to cells of the human body. Therefore, impairment to the integrity of blood vessels will lead to various complications. Cardiac and peripheral vascular diseases have been the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the Western world.1 Currently available therapies rely on the implantation of stents or grafts for reconstruction of blood conduits. However, the availability of suitable venous and arterial grafts for implantation is a challenge, and furthermore these therapies may not be sufficient for complete recovery of function and integrity of the injured vasculature.2 Thus, alternative vascular drains that have the ability to mechanically and biologically fulfill the properties of …