A research team has demonstrated a therapeutic material that could one day promote better tissue regeneration following a wound or a stroke. The injectable gel-like material, which is called a hydrogel, helps this repair process by forming a scaffold inside the wound that acts as like an artificial extracellular matrix, and the new tissue grows around that.

Using an injectable gel isn’t new, but previous gel scaffolds resulted in weak blood vessels in the newly formed tissue. The new findings show that when the scaffold contains a specific integrin-binding molecule, the new blood vessels that are formed are stronger.

They tested two types of scaffolds with different integrin-binding molecules. Both scaffolds also contained the VEGF protein. They found that one of the scaffolds — which bound with the integrin known as α3/α5β1 — worked really well. It directed a higher quality of repair and of regeneration of blood vessels. In addition, they found that the α3/α5β1 binding scaffolds also guided the shape of the blood vessel, a process called morphogenic signaling.