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Design and Development of Artificial Blood Vessels For Use in the Treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

There is a lack of viable tissue engineering treatment options for peripheral artery disease, with many unanswered fundamental questions. This project seeks to investigate electrospinning (a materials fabrication technique) from an engineering-led perspective, to design fibrous structures with biomechanical properties matching those of natural vessels, which induce appropriate cellular functions.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the second most common cause of mortality in the UK, causing 27% of deaths; Manchester ranks as the UK region with the second highest mortality figures. Current healthcare costs show £4.3 billion per annum being spent on patients with CVD. Peripheral artery (or vascular) disease (PAD) forms a subset of CVD, and is commonly caused by diabetes as one associated risk factor. PAD causes stiffening and/or blockage of the blood vessels, leading to loss of normal function and reducing blood flow to downstream areas of the body. In some cases, diseased vessels are replaced with those from other areas of the body; however, there is a lack of viable treatment options when the blood vessel is less than 6mm in diameter (occurring in most clinical incidences). Hence, artificial blood vessels, following either biomaterial or tissue engineered approaches, are utilized.
The artificial vessel, regardless of its construction method/material, should closely match the structure and properties of the natural tissue it is replacing. Previous work using electrospinning (a materials fabrication technique that biomimics natural tissue substrates) has shown significant potential for use in artificial blood vessels, when directly compared to other, clinically used, materials.
There is currently no agreed technique for production of these tissue engineered vessels, and many of the fundamental questions about the underlying required engineering and biomechanical properties have not been answered. Hence, no significant improvement has been offered to the bioengineering or cardiovascular fields. An improvement in treatment, based around increased knowledge of the associated disease, healthy blood vessels and how to regenerate associated function, would dramatically reduce ongoing healthcare costs and improve patient quality of life.

Project Aim: to develop novel tissue-engineered electrospun artificial blood vessels based on functional biomechanical and cellular requirements.

Project Objectives:
• Investigate and determine anatomical and clinical requirements for the functioning of a healthy, natural vessel and a tissue engineered replacement
• Analyse the biomechanics of natural and artificial vessels, through mechanical modelling
• Design artificial blood vessel scaffolds and fabricate these structures through use of electrospinning
• Evaluate the effect of the produced structures with regards to cellular behavior and biomechanical functioning

The PhD will involve collaboration with academics from different disciplines and clinical partners.

Funding Notes

Essential Skills:
- A good (2i or First Class) undergraduate degree in Engineering, Biomedical Sciences/Bioengineering, Physics or similar (BEng, MEng, BSc) (or equivalent industrial experience)
- Good written and verbal English language skills (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent if English is not first language)
- Ability to work in a team and conduct tasks independently
- Good level Mathematics ability
- Experience of data collection and data analysis
- An appreciation for the field of biomedical engineering
- A willingness to learn a variety of new, multidisciplinary skills, including cell culture (using human cells), microscopy and materials production

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