3D Printing is being increasingly used for tissue engineering because of the ability to create intricate constructs that can mimic the complexity of native tissues. However, most synthetic materials used for 3D printing like poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA), poly(glycolic acid) (PGA), poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), and polycaprolactone (PCL) lack the functionality to provide a local bioactive environment and elicit a desirable response. On the other hand, 3D printable natural materials suffer from inconsistent sources and can invoke inflammatory reactions. Therefore, there is an urgent need to create novel materials that can provide tunable structural and biological cues for the regeneration of native tissue.
This collaboration aims to utilize this platform to create bioactive scaffolds for a wide range of tissue engineering applications. Given the modular nature of the polyester platform we can combine various functional groups to mimic the mechanical and chemical nature of a native tissue. Moreover, the ability to print these polymers at ambient temperatures facilitates 3D printing of multi-material constructs with controlled 3D spatial arrangement of bioactive drugs, peptides, and/or proteins.
The goal is to translate the library of 3D printable synthetic polymers for various tissue engineering applications such as skin repair and regeneration, cartilage regeneration, osteochondral regeneration, and ligament/tendon regeneration. We are especially interested in the complex coordinated pathways involved in wound healing and skin regeneration and in developing 3D printed scaffolds to modulate these pathways. By examining the effects of chemical structure, and physical properties such as scaffold modulus and pore geometry we plan to understand how to influence the transition of wounds from a chronic to a healing response.
The long-term objective of the collaboration is to draw upon the strengths of the diverse research teams of CECT to design skin grafts incorporating the optimum physical, chemical and biological cues into 3D printed scaffolds such that wound healing and possibly skin regeneration can be achieved.