Martina Viola – PhD student Utrecht

Project description

The aim of this work is to combine synthetic and natural polymers to create, using Melt Electrowriting technique, scaffolds with mechanical properties and biocompatibility ideal for regeneration of some human tissues, specifically Cartilage. Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue, a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints, and is a structural component of many others body components. Compared to other connective tissues, cartilage has a very slow turnover of its extracellular matrix and does not repair itself when it is damaged. For this reasons is considered a really good tissues for application in tissue engineering. Melt Electrowriting is a processing technique to produce fibrous structures from polymer melts for applications, in this technique electrical fields are used to draw fibers of a molten polymer onto a computer-controlled collector plate. 3D constructs are then obtained by repetitive fiber-by-fiber stacking. The most common polymer that is used with MEW is Polycaprolactone, but the problem that always occurs with PCL is that, because of its hydrophobicity, it hardly interacts with cells. For this reason we would like to synthetize a derivative of PCL, called pHMGCL, which is more hydrophilic than PCL and hopefully more elastic. Then, we would like to combine it with a cell-loaded hydrogel, through chemical cross-linking. In we would like to work on another polymer: SILK, always with the aim of making scaffold for cartilage regeneration. We made this choice because silk fibroin is a potential and advanced biomaterial for regenerating both soft and hard tissues.

Techniques: Melt Electrowriting, Solution Electrowriting
Keywords: Tissue engineering, Cartilage regeneration, Silk Fibroin, Melt Electrowriting, Solution Electrowriting