May 31, 2018 | Dana Waller A team of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Alabama in Huntsville has successfully demonstrated a convenient and efficient method for inner-surface modification of small-diameter vascular graft tubes using cold atmospheric pressure plasma without affecting the bulk mechanical properties, which is paramount for dynamic flexing cardiovascular implants. Currently, there is no synthetic graft available for small-diameter replacement of damaged blood vessels. In native blood vessels, the inner endothelial layer prevents blood clotting. Surface modification of nanostructured polymer grafts with plasma will enable to improve wettability, surface functionalities, and surface energies in the fields of tissue regenerative medicine. This work paves the way towards improved vascular grafts for cardiovascular disease patients in a way to improve existing grafts for enhanced endothelial coverage and blood compatibility, and to future off-the-shelf vascular grafts. For several decades, various plasma methods have been employed in food processing, agriculture, automotive, healthcare, polymer processing, and other industries to affect surface properties and for sterilization and disinfection. In biomaterials engineering, it is highly desirable to modify the surfaces for improved biocompatibility or for attaching active molecules or proteins while leaving the bulk properties unaltered. There is also great interest in understanding the fundamentals of the interactions between plasma and these surfaces. The research team has been successful in achieving a modified surface of nanofibrous polymer that are fabricated with a tube-like geometry. This work is significant for the NSF EPSCoR, Connecting the Plasma Universe to Plasma Technology in Alabama (CPU2AL) Project. The outcome has resulted in a more detailed understanding of plasma interactions at the surfaces of biomaterials. The results include changes in surface chemistry that are directly related to the type of ionized gas in the plasma jet. The project has facilitated the collaboration among Alabama universities, provided research opportunities for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty, and has moved toward the overall goal of connecting plasma technology to Alabama. The team recently published an article entitled Atmospheric pressure plasma jet: A facile method to modify the intimal surface of polymeric tubular conduits, which was selected as Editor’s pick and has been displayed in the homepage of the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A. The article was authored by Bernabe S. Tucker, Paul Baker, Kunning G. Xu, Yogesh Vohra, and Vinoy Thomas. Congratulations are in order to the Team and especially to CERIF GRA awardee Bernabe Tucker for being the first author of this article. Related Development: Wet-lay Process Could Accelerate Pace of Tissue Engineering Research Tissue engineering is a transformative branch of regenerative medicine —a cutting-edge field that has the potential to revolutionize the future of healthcare. A team of researchers in the UAB Department of Materials Science and Engineering hopes to accelerate the pace of that high-tech research through the application of a decades-old process—one that has roots in centuries-old technology. A team of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Alabama in Huntsville has successfully demonstrated a convenient and efficient method for inner-surface modification of small-diameter vascular graft tubes using cold atmospheric pressure plasma without affecting the bulk mechanical properties, which is paramount for dynamic flexing cardiovascular implants.