Showcasing research into laboratory grown human blood vessels

Dr Alan Harper was invited to present his work at the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of animals in research (NC3Rs) showcase of cardiovascular research in March. His poster detailed the experimental background for his recently award NC3R- and British Heart Foundation co-funded PhD studentship - “Reducing and replacing the use of in vivo thrombosis models in rodents using human tissue-engineered arterial constructs”.

The processes of blood clotting are strongly dependent on the intracellular environments created by the physical forces of blood flow and chemical signals from cells in the blood vessel wall. Therefore the mechanisms of blood clotting can only be truly understood by studying it within the body. This has led to the large use of mice and rats by scientists in the study of how blood clotting occurs within living blood vessels, as it is not ethical to perform these studies in humans.

In his forthcoming project, Dr Harper will work alongside Prof Ying Yang, Dr Paul Roach (Loughborough University) and Prof Jon Gibbins (University of Reading), to investigate if artificial human blood vessels grown in the lab using tissue engineering techniques can be used to recreate the same experiments currently performed inside rodents. If successful, it is hoped that this project will provide a more ethical and sustainable system in which to study the molecular mechanisms underlying human blood clotting and its inhibition by anti-clotting drugs used to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Alan Harper, Lecturer in Bioscience