BME Faculty Candidate Seminar: “Engineering Arterial Grafts: Bench-to-Startup-to-(hopefully) Bedside”

Date(s) - 04/20/2010
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Dr. David A. Vorp, Professor of Surgery and Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh

Abstract: Cardiovascular disease, including coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 500,000 coronary artery bypass grafts and 50,000 peripheral bypass grafts are used annually in this country alone. Currently, most multiple bypass procedures rely on the use of the patient’s leg veins for graft material, since arterial segments are limited in number, and successful synthetic graft options do not exist for small vessels such as the coronary arteries. Only 69% of the patients bypassed with vein grafts, however, reach a 10-12 year period without needing another invasive procedure.  Prof. Vorp and his team have developed two possible means to address the shortcomings of current arterial bypass grafts.  One is a biodegradable wrap – like a girdle – designed to be placed around the outside of veins quickly and safely at the time of surgery.  The wrap will degrade and gradually expose a vein graft to the increased forces it must now withstand in place of the bypassed artery.  This technology is the focus of a recent start-up company founded by Prof. Vorp and three of his associates.  The vein graft wrap solution is not sufficient for all patients, however, so Prof. Vorp and his team also are exploring approaches to regenerating blood vessels from the patient’s stem cells.  Results of studies to date have been quite promising and suggest that tissue engineered constructs using these cells will regenerate into functional arteries, potentially useful for arterial bypass applications.

Biography: David Vorp is a Professor of Surgery and Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Prof. Vorp’s research focuses on the biomechanics of tubular tissues, such as blood vessels, urethra, esophagus, and intestine – including “mechanopathobiology”, the study of the role of mechanical forces in the genesis and progression of disease.  His laboratory has also developed tissue engineering strategies for these organs, which has included studies on the mechanobiology of stem cells.  Prof. Vorp serves as one of five Associate Editors for the Journal of Biomechanics, is on the Executive Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Bioengineering Division, and is in his second term on the Board of Directors of the Biomedical Engineering Society.  Prof. Vorp and three of his associates recently founded Neograft Technologies, Inc., the platform technology for which was developed in Prof. Vorp’s laboratory and will be presented in this seminar.