New clay-based therapy can boost blood vessel growth

Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed a clay-based platform to deliver therapeutic proteins to the body to assist with the formation of new blood vessels, one of the major clinical challenges in wound healing and tissue implants.

Researchers from Texas A&M University in the US have developed a new type of two-dimensional clay, also known as nanosilicates, that delivers multiple specialised proteins called growth factors into the body to stimulate new blood vessel formation.

To allow blood vessels time to form, the clay is designed to prolong the release through its high surface area and charged characteristics, according to assistant professor Akhilesh K Gaharwar.

“Clay nanoparticles work like tiny weak magnets that hold the growth factors within the polymeric hydrogels and release very slowly,” Gaharwar said.

“Sustained and prolonged release of physiologically relevant doses of growth factors are important to avoid problems due to high doses, such as abrupt tissue formation,” he said.

Researchers said the clay also keeps the growth factors organised, preventing abnormal growth and moderating activity of surrounding cells.

Gaharwar said by establishing clay nanoparticles as a platform technology for delivering the growth factors, the research will have a significant impact on designing the next generation of bioactive scaffolds and implants.