Development of cell-interactive and biodegradable AUP-based hydrogel materials for the fabrication of three-dimensional liver tissue engineering scaffolds

01 November 2023 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Chemical characterisation of materials
    • Macromolecular and materials chemistry not elsewhere classified
  • Engineering and technology
    • Tissue engineering
    • Polymer processing
    • Polymers and plastics
Liver Tissue Engineering Cell-interactivity 3D Bioprinting
Project description

Liver related diseases and liver cancer remain one of the leading causes of death worldwide, claiming over 1 million deaths every year. In many cases, the only cure patients can look forward to is an orthotopic liver transplant, which are not readily available due to the massive donor shortage. Over the past decade, tissue engineering efforts have been directed at recreating liver tissue, however, the current generation of scaffolds are insufficient to meet the stringent requirements. Therefore, this project focusses on the development of a photo-cross-linkable hydrogel building block that can be employed in 3D printing, is soft enough to mimic the liver extra-cellular matrix (ECM), while also being able to degrade over the span of 6-8 weeks. To accomplish this, we propose the use of acrylate end-capped urethanes (AUPs) as they are inherently photo-cross-linkable and their modular design allows to tune their physicochemical properties by varying the backbone, spacer, and end-cap. Cell-interactivity of the scaffolds will be implemented by introducing polymerizable, cell-interactive ligands, affording a hybrid material with optimal characteristics for our application. The scaffolds will be manufactured with 2 different rapid manufacturing techniques, i.e. fused deposition modelling (FDM) and digital light processing (DLP). Lastly, the prepared scaffolds will be seeded with human liver cells and the cell viability as well as differentiated functions of the cells will be studied.