Volumetric muscle loss (VML) is a critically sized skeletal muscle injury that results in lasting functional and strength deficits. VML can be caused by trauma or disease, most notably occurring in battlefield injuries affecting soldiers and others in conflict zones. There are currently no effective long-term treatments or therapies to restore muscle function and anatomy. Full recovery of muscle function and strength in surgical remedies often fails to achieve pre-injury tissue and/or limb performance.
Strength and function of tissues lost to VML may be addressed through tissue engineering. These strategies aim to restore healthy tissue that is both aesthetically and functionally similar to the original tissue, pre-injury. In order to promote healthy muscle formation, researchers have turned toward more biomimetic scaffolds that can support and promote cell growth and myogenic behavior. The Hartgerink group has developed multidomain peptide (MDP) hydrogels for tissue regeneration. These MDPs have demonstrated pro-inflammatory immune responses while promoting angiogenesis and neurogenesis, all necessary behaviors for the regeneration of muscle tissue. This project will aim to develop an MDP hydrogel bioink for 3D printing muscle tissues. The ultimate objective is to assess the effectiveness of MDP hydrogels in an established animal VM injury model.