Development of 3D printed core/shell hydrogels towards patient-specific breast reconstruction

01 November 2019 → 31 October 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Plastic surgery
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biomaterials
    • Organ engineering
    • Biomechanical engineering not elsewehere classified
breast reconstruction
Project description

Nowadays, breast implants, lipofilling and micro-surgical free tissue transfer are the most popular procedures to repair soft tissue defects resulting from mastectomies/lumpectomies following breast cancer. With breast cancer being the most common cancer affecting women worldwide, there is a clinical need for reconstructive strategies addressing current drawbacks and limitations. The development of biomimetic materials able to promote proliferation and adipogenic differentiation have gained increasing attention for adipose reconstructive purposes. The aim of the current research project will include (1) the development of biodegradable, gelatin-based hydrogel building blocks with photo-polymerizable groups focusing on step growth polymerization which can be applied as starting materials for the fabrication of 3D constructs; (2) 3D printing of constructs with an adipogenic shell and an angiogenic core; (3) the translation of the obtained results to a recombinant RCP-based hydrogel diminishing the potential towards adverse in vivo effects and (4) analyzing the biocompatibility via in vitro and in vivo assays. The project outcome could offer a shift towards a patient-specific 3D printed, reconstructive approach, that can potentially be safer and more cost-effective.