January 01, 2003
Electrospinning Used To Create Small Blood Vessels

Tissue engineering is a hot field. Electrospinning is a promising technique for making a three dimensional scaffold for growing replacement tissue.

RICHMOND, Va. – Traditional heart bypass surgeries require using veins from the leg to replace damaged blood vessels. Using a nanotechnology developed by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers, doctors soon could be using artificial blood vessels grown in a laboratory to help save half a million lives every year.

The new technology produces a natural human blood vessel grown around a scaffold, or tube, made of collagen. Using a process called electrospinning, VCU scientists are making tubes as small as one millimeter in diameter. That’s more than four times smaller than the width of a drinking straw and six times smaller than the smallest commercially available vascular graft.

VCU Biomedical Engineer Gary L. Bowlin, Ph.D., said patients don’t always have enough spare veins for a heart bypass, and even when they do, complications and failures often result because they are not compatible. “So what’s really needed is a blood vessel you can pull off the shelf,” said Bowlin.

After the scaffold is spun, smooth muscle cells are “seeded” or placed on its surface in a laboratory. The cells grow and within three-to-six weeks the tissue-engineered blood vessel is ready to implant.

Unlike current synthetic plastic blood vessels, collagen is a natural component of the body, allowing cells to grow on its surface and avoid rejection. “The cells are in a happy environment and they’re just going to stay and think ‘I’m a blood vessel, I’m going to act like a blood vessel,’” said Bowlin.

The collagen scaffold is biodegradable and eventually is replaced by the body. Pre-made blood vessels could be made available to emergency rooms where every second counts. Other applications include pediatric surgery where implanted blood vessels must grow with the patient and diabetic patients who often lose blood vessels to vascular disease.

The same collagen electrospinning technology can also be used to regenerate or replace skin, bone, nerves, muscles and even repair spinal cord injuries, according to co-inventor Gary E. Wnek, Ph.D., a VCU chemical engineer. “Anything you want to repair can start from a scaffold. We’re very excited about the potential,” said Wnek.

Practical applications of the new technology could be commercially available within three years.

The VCU researchers are pursuing commerical development of their technology.

Through VCU, the researchers formed a company called NanoMatrix to produce and test their products. Within two to three years, NanoMatrix expects to have products on the market, Bowlin said.

His co-inventors are Gary E. Wnek, a chemical engineer interested in nerve repair, and David Simpson, an associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, who is looking at hearts and skeletal muscles.

``We're trying to make corneas, cartilage, skin, bones, tendons,'' Bowlin said. ``The Holy Grail is to make a whole liver, a whole heart, but we have to take baby steps.''

NanoMatrix and VCU are pursuing US government funding thru the National Institute of Standards and Techology Advanced Technology Program. The NanoMatrix grant application summary provides an idea of their direction of development.

More than 1.4 million surgical procedures that require arterial prostheses are performed each year in the United States, approximately 500,000 of these are coronary artery bypass operations. Because there are no acceptable synthetic prostheses for small-diameter blood vessels, surgeons must harvest the patient's own blood vessels for the transplant. This procedure is time-consuming, prone to complications, and greatly increases the recovery time for the patient. It also limits the number of patients who are good candidates for the surgery, because there are only a few vessels in the body potentially available for transplantation. Attempts have been made for years to develop a viable synthetic or tissue-engineered prostheses for small blood vessels, but all have had high failure rates for one reason or another. To answer this need, NanoMatrix proposes a three-year project to design and fabricate three-dimensional (3D) "scaffolds" out of collagen, the body's natural structural material, that can be seeded with various types of cells to mimic natural, small-diameter blood vessels. Studies suggest that muscle cells, once implanted in the scaffold, will develop the function, shape, morphology, and cellular architecture of the "normal" vessel. In practice, natural blood vessels are difficult to mimic -- they are composed of three distinct layers of different types of cells and attempts to artificially create the blood-vessel tube have been frustrating. NanoMatrix's innovation is a novel "electrospinning" technology to produce nanofibers from collagen and other biological proteins, together with a special bioreactor to culture the implanted cells on this scaffold of collagen. Electrospinning has been used in the past to produce very fine fibers of polymers -- and even collagen -- but lacking precise, controlled orientation of the fibers. NanoMatrix will design and build an electrospinning device that incorporates computerized, multi-axis controls to build collagen scaffolds with the proper layering and orientation to mimic blood vessels. A novel cell culture bioreactor will maintain the constructs and prevent necrosis as the cells grow. Human endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and fibroblasts will be used in the inner, middle, and outer layers, respectively, of the vascular constructs. A key challenge will be to achieve the proper alignment, architecture, abundance of cell types, and behavior in each cell layer. The company will optimize the structure, mechanical properties, and biological efficacy of the vascular grafts and then conduct implantation studies. Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Va.) will be subcontracted to conduct the tests. ATP support is necessary because the long history of previous failures to develop small artificial blood vessels discourages venture capital. If successfully developed and approved for clinical use, the new technology could replace all other vascular grafts, reduce coronary bypass surgical costs by 10 percent and other hospital costs as well, and improve productivity and quality of life for people who undergo vascular graft procedures. The technology platform also would be applicable to the engineering of skin, cartilage, bone, muscle, heart muscle, neural tissue, and other tissues.

This page has a good set of diagrams that explain the electrospinning process.

In 1934, a process was patented by Formhals [1-3], wherein an experimental setup was outlined for the production of polymer filaments using electrostatic force. When used to spin fibers this way, the process is termed as electrospinning.

In the electrospinning process a high voltage is used to create an electrically charged jet of polymer solution or melt, which dries or solidifies to leave a polymer fiber [4, 5]. One electrode is placed into the spinning solution/melt and the other attached to a collector. Electric field is subjected to the end of a capillary tube that contains the polymer fluid held by its surface tension. This induces a charge on the surface of the liquid. Mutual charge repulsion causes a force directly opposite to the surface tension [6]. As the intensity of the electric field is increased, the hemispherical surface of the fluid at the tip of the capillary tube elongates to form a conical shape known as the Taylor cone [7]. With increasing field, a critical value is attained when the repulsive electrostatic force overcomes the surface tension and a charged jet of fluid is ejected from the tip of the Taylor cone. The discharged polymer solution jet undergoes a whipping process [8] wherein the solvent evaporates, leaving behind a charged polymer fiber, which lays itself randomly on a grounded collecting metal screen. In the case of the melt the discharged jet solidifies when it travels in the air and is collected on the grounded metal screen.

The collage scaffolding is biodegradable. Now, you might be asking "Sounds great, but where will we get the natural immunocompatible human collagen from?" Silk worms! Japanese researchers have genetically engineered silk worms to make human collagen.

The team, from Hiroshima University and other institutions, constructed a DNA sequence that encodes for the production of human Type III procollagen, a mini-chain that is a kind of precursor to the full collagen molecule, which is a long-chained polymer. This DNA was combined with other genetic material and then injected into silkworm embryos.

The resulting silkworms secreted procollagen along with silk proteins in forming their cocoons. The researchers reported in Nature Biotechnology that they had found it relatively simple to separate the procollagen from the silk.

A type of human collagen has also recently been made in mouse cells.

Los Angeles, Dec. 23 –– Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, along with colleagues from across the country, have for the first time genetically engineered mouse cells to produce a type of human collagen--type VII--that is missing in a family of inherited skin diseases called dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. They also prompted the mouse cells to create the structural fibers that normally arise from type VII collagen. Their work was published in the December issue of Nature Genetics.

"This is the first demonstration of in vivo gene therapy where the genes have made a large extracellular molecular structure that you can actually see with a microscope," says David Woodley, M.D., professor and chief of dermatology at the Keck School and the principal investigator on this study. Scientists from Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon, Northwestern University in Chicago, and Xgene Corporation in San Carlos, California, also participated in the study.

Woodley was helped by his previous efforts in the field: In 1992, he and some of his colleagues became the first team to clone the human gene for type VII collagen, which is one of the key components of the skin's extracellular matrix. Collagen makes up the tendrils and fibrils that provide a cushion for the skin's cells to rest upon; type VII collagen, in particular, is critical to the creation of the skin's so-called anchoring fibrils.

The goal of the USC researchers is to treat some human inherited skin diseases. They are studying the human type VII collagen gene in the mouse in preparation for the development of a gene therapy to treat the sufferers of these diseases. The mouse may not turn out to be a useful organism for the production of human collagen. Still, its an important result.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 January 01 04:03 PM  Biotech Organ Replacement

zhang-yujun said at March 3, 2003 12:32 AM:

I work in this field,I want more inf,thank you.

ANTE AGIC said at March 18, 2003 2:17 AM:

My student work on electrospinning as example of modern technologyes. Please send me by e- mail some information, especialy about equipment price for laboratory production of nanofibers.
Thank You.

Mike said at April 27, 2003 2:53 AM:

I am study on artificial blood vessels,can u send me some info about, the need for medical intervention,
Thank You

Sandy said at August 20, 2003 1:18 PM:

Hi, I have a project looking at formation of filamentous, non-woven polymeric biomaterial structures. The idea of electrospinning looks attractive and I would like to know if you could share your experience on how I can build a system in my lab.

Look forward to your helpful advise.

Thank you,

zsh said at September 21, 2003 7:28 PM:

I major in this field .Can you tell me more information about electrospinnning ?

yuliemaria said at September 24, 2003 7:10 AM:

i would like to know the price for one unit of this electrospinning equipment. tq

zhu said at December 16, 2003 1:31 AM:

I major in electrospinning field. Could you tell me the price for one unit of this electrospinning equipment?thank you

Dr.J.Venugopal said at January 8, 2004 10:57 PM:

Dear Sir,

I am Dr.J.Venugopal working in the field of blood vessel engineering. Please guide me, what scaffold used to make blood vessel.

Your group only working in this field so many years and you know the idea to make blood vessel. What are the paprameters screen after making blood vessels.

Please send me the details regaring my above doubts.

Really it is life saving project.



meenakshi said at January 12, 2004 10:37 PM:

Dear sir,
I have a project on synthesis of nano blood vessels.
this report of urs was of great help to me
could u pls take out some time to provide me swith more information on tth subject and especially ur pioneering work in this field.
thanking u
urs sincerely

Karthik said at February 24, 2004 1:44 PM:


I am a Graduate student in mechanical engineering and have just got started off working in the area of electrospinning. I was curious to know if there is any company that manufactures Electrospinning equipments (or do we have to build one). I have been looking for one , but haven't found any yet. Incase, we have to build our own setup, can you give me links to a few places from where I can get the individual components. I highly appreciate your time and would be thankful if you could help me.

Thanking you.


Stephanie said at March 14, 2004 1:08 AM:

I am writing a paper on electrospinning for vascular tissue engineering. Could you tell me the unit price of a set of electrospinning equipment? Thank you!!

Pena Faapuaa said at May 19, 2004 6:59 AM:

Hey man thanks for such good information, i've been having problems with this project and your site was very helpfull.

George said at July 22, 2004 12:15 PM:

Hi, Could you give me some more details on vascular scaffolds?


Yangyong Wang said at October 28, 2004 6:48 AM:

Dear sir:
I am starting working in the field of electrospinning now. But unfortunately the infirmation was relatively little, so would you be kind to send me some of your related works? and many thanks in advance.

Yangyong Wang

Lorea Buruaga said at November 10, 2004 6:03 AM:


I´ve just finished my studies and started working in my p.h. degree whitch is about electrospinning. By the moment, I´m collecting information about this technique and I´d like to know something else about its appications. Do you think you could send me different applications of this technique?

Sinceresly yours,

Lorea Buruaga.

Andrew Wang said at February 18, 2005 3:40 PM:

I start to work on this filed, could you tell me where I can buy a electrospinning setup?



Fenghao said at March 31, 2005 4:00 AM:

wow, it seems this area is quite hot these days. Electrospun nanofibers are really promising in tissue engineering mainly becos it stands the possibility of creating ECM-like features on the surface. However, there might be two main obstacles making this technology too good to be true: no.1 is fibers are hard to control in terms of spatial alignment. Direction is easy to achieve; but other features like internal fiber distance and so on; no.2 is the 3D environment construction as none of the groups in the world is able to creat a really 3d environment for cell culture. Whenever we talk about those nanofibers, what we are mentioning is actually the 2D nanofiber mesh, with the surface the only useful part.

ha, only after i get to dip into this field did I realize that this field is brimmed with so many possibility to make something happen.

As for some of the questions I met with through the top to the bottom of this list. the price of the electrospinning equipment is not so high; the main part is the High Voltage supplier worth about 2 000 ~4 000 US$, and the whole system might be worth at the same level. Good luck to everyone!

Fenghao Chen

jerry said at May 4, 2005 12:14 PM:

Do you know if the small blood vessels can be used to replace damaged or burst blood vessels in the glans of the penis?

sun tao said at May 27, 2005 7:44 PM:

i am also in this field
and our labs have do a lot research about it
we are in china

Mandoli said at October 13, 2005 8:15 AM:

I'm working on electrospinning for polimeric scaffolds syntesys. Could you please send me by e- mail some information, especialy about equipment price for laboratory production of nanofibers? Thank you in advance.

Corrado Mandoli

william said at December 15, 2005 5:18 AM:

i have made some research in this field for over a year, now i will finish my graduate life in MARCH,2006. I wonder if i can come and join your team. The answer will be appreciated.

sherif said at January 23, 2006 3:41 AM:

i will work on the electrospinning and i need some informations about the equipment price for laboratory production of nanofibers and from where can i buy it ?..for example i can,t find the high voltage supply !
thank you

Dario Puppi said at March 1, 2006 6:10 AM:

I'm in the first year of PHD in Biomaterials at the University of Pisa (Italy) and I'm studying scaffolds for bone and cartilage tissue regeneration. I will use electrospinning as scaffold preparation technique and, if it's possible, I need informations about the laboratory equipment for fibers production. In particular I need some detailed indications about technical features of High Voltage Power Supplyer and where (if possible in Italy)I can buy it. Thank you in advance

Alli said at March 1, 2006 1:44 PM:

Try Spellman for the high voltage power supply.

Utpal Bora said at March 18, 2006 3:16 AM:

I want to know about different makes of electrospinning instruments/set ups available along with estimated price of the best ones. Even if one person can send me the details of one set up I would feel very lucky.

mehdi shadpour said at April 9, 2006 3:26 PM:

Dear Sirs
We are an investigation group that studying electrospinning.
We wanting know that use of a power supply with every power isn't any problem in this field or no?
Best Regards.

haifa milad said at April 19, 2006 2:09 AM:

Good morning
I am in the first year of Msc in biomedical engineering at academy.And I am studying in biomaterials (which compabalited to replace hard body tissue),so I need big information about this topic.
thank you.
Eng Haifa

Haifa Milad said at April 19, 2006 2:13 AM:

Good morning
I am in the first year of Msc in biomedical engineering at academy.And I am studying in biomaterials (which compabalited to replace hard body tissue),so I need big information about this topic.
thank you.
Eng Haifa

Jerry Cheng said at August 14, 2006 5:33 PM:

Do you know if tiny microscoptic blood vessels in the glans penis can be grown and implanted in the glans? Because I had burst the tiny blood vessels in my glans penis tissue and am looking for anyone qualified who can help me. Your effort will be greatly appreciated.

M. Naveed said at August 18, 2006 3:30 AM:

I would like to know the price for one unit of this electrospinning equipment

Yanbo Liu said at May 26, 2008 11:58 PM:

Hi everybody,

Nice to meet you all here. If somebody here still need electrospinning equipment for lab experiment, please contact me at yanbo1214@yahoo.com, thank you. I am working at an equipment producing company in Beijing, China, and I am currently get involved in a projet which is aimed at developing electrospinning equipment used for producing nanofiber web at large scale.

Vajendra Thukral said at August 12, 2008 8:04 AM:

Hi Everybody, If you are looking for Electrospinning unit please fell free to contact me at iam4peace2@yahoo.com.
We manufacture the entire Electrospinning unit to produce nano-fibers for all application.
We can also help set-up melt electrospinning,
With best wishes to all.
Vajendra Thukral

omer atalar said at August 20, 2008 4:35 PM:

you can also send an email to arge@nano-dev.net , they produces some nanofibers in turkey , and also they can supply labarotory and industrial scale electrospinning machines

Tania Caldu said at January 26, 2009 2:24 PM:

I'm working on making PLA and PCL nanofibers in UNAM, México, but I'm planning to buy the equipment. Could you send me information about the equipment you sell as well as prices? Thank you

lasalome said at February 26, 2009 12:35 AM:

Dear sir
l study about nanofibers which obtained from electrospinning.
please send me some information about electrospinning set up and prices about equipments.

thank you

Murugesan M said at May 30, 2009 3:35 PM:

Hi, I am very much interested to like know the cost of the basic laboratory scale electrospinning unit and supplier.
Please let me know.
Thanks in advance,

Vajendra Thukral said at June 13, 2009 5:28 AM:

Hi Everybody, If you are looking for Electrospinning unit please fell free to contact me at iam4peace2@yahoo.com.
We manufacture the entire Electrospinning unit to produce nano-fibers for all application.
We can also help set-up melt electrospinning,
With best wishes to all.
Vajendra Thukral

Nooshin Nabizadeh said at March 31, 2010 9:16 AM:

I major in electrospinning field. Could you tell me the price for one unit of this electrospinning equipment?thank you

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