Innovative scaffolds with enhanced vascularization and patterned cells for bone tissue engineering

01 October 2022 → 31 August 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biomaterials
    • Tissue engineering
    • Functionalisation of materials
Tissue engineering Vascularization Cell patterning
Project description

Tissue engineering (TE) is a promising research field to address the loss or failure of organs/tissues. However, designing larger performant TE constructs is challenging due to the need for (1) functional scaffold vascularization in combination with (2) controlled cellular distribution. Therefore, this project aims to develop a new strategy to synthesize vascularized TE bone constructs, as bone is a very relevant tissue. The construct will consist of (1) a tubular vascular system that mimics the hierarchical structure of the native vascular tree and is seeded on the inner side with endothelial cells (ECs), (2) mural cells (MCs) seeded on the outer side of the synthetic blood vessels (the desired location) and (3) a poly-e-caprolactone (PCL) support on which osteoblasts (OBs) can be seeded locally. To do so, 3D printed PCL layers will be alternated with 2D fibrin-based vascular layers, for which the stability, permeability and dimensions will be optimized first. Local chemical cues, first optimized on 2D substrates, will be introduced in a second fabrication step to allow local cellular adhesion. After 3D scaffold fabrication, EC, MC and OB co-culturing will be performed and the influence of the blood vessels on the long term performance of the TE construct will be assessed, thus obtaining important fundamental knowledge on the design of vascularized synthetic tissues. If successful, future work could focus on expanding this strategy to other tissues and in vivo research.