INDIANAPOLIS, April 6 (UPI) -- Indiana University has licensed technology that creates human blood vessels and may prove to be an effective treatment for people with peripheral arterial disease, according to the university.
Cellular Dynamics International licensed the technology to develop it for use with patients, having already identified potential clients based on what it sees as a significant opportunity to treat a difficult disease, the company says.
Peripheral arterial disease, a narrowing of the arteries, most often in the legs, is a chronic condition restricting blood flow that affects about 3 million new patients per year in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
Although the body creates cells to repair damaged blood vessels or form new ones, it loses this ability as people get older or develop disease.
Dr. Mervin Yoder, a researcher at Indiana University, developed a method of using induced pluripotent stem cells from patients and turning them into cells with the characteristics of endothelial colony-forming cells found in umbilical cord blood -- which form blood vessels and restore blood flow to to damaged tissue.
"The technology licensed to Cellular Dynamics International may be useful to restore the delivery of blood and avoid amputation," Yoder said in a press release.
The technique used to induce, culture and create the cells, detailed in a 2014 study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, led to the growth of 100 million new cells for each original cell in about three months. The cells are then injected into a patient's limb using a gel, which encourages the growth of small blood vessels.
"A large number of cells are necessary for any therapeutic application," said Tak Okada, chief technology officer at Cellular Dynamics International. "We chose to license this technology not only because it produces the quality of cells necessary for therapeutic use, but also because it enables the quantity by large volume production."
The condition leads to the development of ulcers or gangrene, with 28 percent of patients requiring foot or limb amputation. Yoder said his comparatively inexpensive method could save a lot of money -- treatment related to peripheral arterial disease costs more than $4.5 billion per year -- and is more effective than existing treatments.
"We believe that Dr. Yoder's novel technology for the creation of blood vessels has therapeutic potential for the treatment of peripheral arterial disease, a disease for which there are limited treatment options today," Okada said.