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How vitamin A can reduce scarring in blood vessels

A team of US researchers has developed a new biodegradable material with built-in vitamin A which has been shown to reduce scarring in blood vessels. While scarring is a natural part of any healing process, scar formation within our blood vessels can be deadly. "When injury occurs, cells proliferate and migrate into the blood vessel, creating scar-like tissue. It can create blockages that impair blood flow," said lead researcher Guillermo Ameer from the Northwestern University.

The soft elastic material can be used to treat injured vessels or be used to make medical devices such as stents and prosthetic vascular grafts. Early tests have shown that the material can reduce cell migration -- a major contributor to the scarring process -- by 57 percent.

"In his new work, vitamin A is integrated into the material, harnessing the beneficial properties of vitamin A and allowing for its broader application in medical devices," the authors noted in a paper published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.

This new advanced material brings together two major advantages. Its antioxidant component can reduce the oxidative stress that leads to chronic inflammation.

Vitamin A, which is released as the material degrades, can prevent or reduce scarring.

It can potentially also be used outside the body such as for wound-healing bandages for diabetic patients.

Because the new material releases vitamin A as it degrades, the potential for toxic build up is much lower.

Ameer's team can also control how quickly the material degrades -- and thus releases the vitamin A -- depending on how the material is produced in the laboratory.

The team now plans to explore the material's potential for additional applications. Vitamin A is already widely known for its anti-ageing properties and topical antioxidants can be used to combat cell damage or improve wound healing.

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