Aktuelle Forschung in Aachen: Chemie für eine bessere Zukunft


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Titel: Material challenges to grow functional human tissues

Referent: Prof. Laura De Laporte

Growing functional tissue – providing the right architecture to drive cells

The field of tissue engineering emerged about 25 years ago with the aim to grow tissues by combining biomaterials, cells, and bioactive factors. This technology can be employed as regenerative treatment inside the body after disease or injury, or to create ex vivo human tissue models to study pathologies and test drugs.

However, scientists are still struggling to grow functional complex tissues due to many open questions about which biochemical, mechanical, and physical cues are required at which time points during the healing process or during cell culture. To elucidate and control these processes, synthetic materials can be designed and produced to form 3D scaffolds with variable pre-programmed, interactive, responsive and dynamic properties. In addition, the right architectures should be provided to drive cells and grow functional tissue.

We focus on injectable systems, which can be administered into sensitive tissues in the body in a low invasive manner, pipetted in an automated manner using robotics to build high-throughput screening platforms, or bioprinted into larger constructs. As we start from liquid solutions, the magic has to happen after the injection, thus all information has to be already present in the solution to form the desired structures and present the required signals to the cells.

To achieve this, external triggers, such as light and magnetic fields, can be applied and polymer molecules are replaced with smart microgels that are 1,000 to 100,000 times larger than molecules, changing the way of making soft hydrogels for tissue engineering. This way, novel macroporous, aligned, and actuating 3D architectures can be generated affecting the fate of the cells.