At first glance, it can seem like an intimidating word. A lot of people may inadvertently find their eyes glazing over whenever they encounter medical terminology with more than a few syllables.
But it’s well worth learning what this particular process is for anyone considering bone or tissue grafts, because the effectiveness of the entire procedure depends on angiogenesis.
In fact, as part of our efforts to create better cellular allografts, Burst Biologics has had to find ways to encourage angiogenesis. Read on to understand how the process works and why it matters.
What Exactly is Angiogenesis?
At a basic level, angiogenesis is simply the formation and development of new blood vessels. More precisely, it forms new capillary blood vessels from preexisting blood vessels.
If you’re a word nerd, you may find it helpful to consider the term based on its two roots:
- Angio – blood vessel
- Genesis – creation
In addition to angiogenesis, there’s vasculogenesis. This is a different but related process in which brand new blood vessels are formed from angioblasts (aka endothelial precursor cells). You’ll generally only see vasculogenesis in an embryo – by the time an individual reaches adulthood, the formation of new blood vessels occurs primarily through angiogenesis.
Why is Angiogenesis Important?
The reason you should care about angiogenesis is for its essential role in wound healing and bone formation. Yes, it’s actually needed in order for bone to form!
For example, in the case of a spinal fusion, there’s typically some kind of a gap between two vertebrae that needs to be filled in with natural bone. How does a physician make that happen?
Well, a bone graft like our BioBurst strip can help. When it’s placed in the cavity, the strip creates an osteoconductive matrix as a scaffold for new bone formation. However, just as important is the inclusion of powerful natural growth factors and cytokines. One of these is the VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, a signal that tells the body to grow blood vessels in the area.
Angiogenesis matters because bone is a highly vascularized tissue that relies on the connection between bone cells and blood vessels in order to maintain skeletal integrity. If you have the ingredients in place for bone growth, but not for blood vessel formation, the procedure isn’t going to have the greatest impact.
And why are blood vessels so important? Ultimately, bone and tissue regeneration require angiogenesis – the formation of a functional microvascular network – because new blood vessels promote much-needed blood circulation to areas in the body that need nutrients. In our spinal fusion case, the affected area needs a lot of raw material to rebuild bone, and blood vessels make that possible.
Angiogenesis in Allografts
So, what does all this mean in plain English? It means that if you want an effective allograft, you need to consider whether the products you rely on induce the creation of new blood vessels.
When you consider effectiveness in biologic applications, speed is a big motivator. Fortunately, a process like angiogenesis can directly boost the speed of healing, because it creates more capillaries that allow more nutrients to be delivered within the same timeframe.
But that’s not all. As important as this specific process is, there’s another key point here, which is that bodily processes are interconnected. Like with digestion or respiration, the formation of bone (ie osteogenesis) doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
That’s why regenerative medicine products need angiogenesis as part of the bone consolidation process, and why it’s so important to continue researching ways of inducing it for healing.
Interested in learning more? We’ve recently released a new BioBurst Fluid research brochure that delves into BioBurst Fluid and its unique angiogenic properties, as well as the science behind angiogenesis.
Head on over to My BioPortal to grab a copy or ask your rep about it today!