Physical Approaches to Vascularization of Biomaterials
To function appropriately, nearly all tissues in the human body require some form of vascularization. These vessels consist of two types: those that conduct blood, and those that drain excess fluid. Methods to promote vascularization have historically focused on biological and biochemical signals, and are typically slow. Our studies have developed an alternative strategy, one that relies on control over physical signals, to enhance vascularization. These studies support a mechanical basis for stable vascularization, in which tensile stress at the cell-biomaterial interface must be maintained below a critical threshold. Using this mechanical criterion as a design principle has enabled the generation of vascularized biomaterials that can be perfused and/or drained over several weeks, with physiological values that are similar to those of native human tissues.