Advanced Manufacturing for Vascular Graft Sealant Technology

Academic Institution: University of Strathclyde

Academic Supervisor: Dr John Liggat

Industry Partner: Terumo Aortic

PhD Student: Kirsty Jane Goudie

Start Date: 1st August 2019


Terumo Aortic, based in Inchinnan, Scotland, are a global leader in the design and manufacture of vascular grafts for open surgery, currently producing 120,000 synthetic grafts per year for life-saving arterial replacement to treat patients with aortic disease. A key component of the market success of these products is the patented gelatin impregnation sealing technology which makes the grafts impermeable to blood leakage when implanted, but which degrades over a period of 14 days in-vivo to allow unimpaired tissue incorporation into the matrix of the graft.

Despite the critical importance of this gelatin technology for its surgical products, the company is currently reliant on external suppliers for the production of the modified gelatin (succinylated gelatin) which is an integral part of the graft production process. Inconsistency in the quality of this supplied material has been a recurring problem as the company aims to meet growing market demand, leading to line stoppages, poor yields and large customer backorders.

By developing the capabilities to produce and analyse the modified gelatin in-house, it is predicted that Terumo Aortic could increase its output and sales by 10% and could also produce high margin customised products with shorter lead times. Beyond this, research into the effects of gelatin modification and processing on end-product functionality will provide a platform for future developments of drug-eluting grafts, with controlled drug release profile – a truly disruptive technology opportunity.

The Academic and Industry partners are well placed to undertake this research challenge, providing considerable experience and expertise in analytical chemistry, processing of natural and synthetic polymers and commercial production. Collaboration is already underway between the groups, and this project represents a complementary programme of activities that will accelerate the strategic research towards the goal of world-leading Advanced Manufacturing in Scotland.