Unveiling the potential of melt electrowriting in regenerative dental medicine
For nearly three decades, tissue engineering strategies have been leveraged to devise effective therapeutics for dental, oral, and craniofacial (DOC) regenerative medicine and treat permanent deformities caused by many debilitating health conditions. In this regard, additive manufacturing (AM) allows the fabrication of personalized scaffolds that have the potential to recapitulate native tissue morphology and biomechanics through the utilization of several 3D printing techniques. Among these, melt electrowriting (MEW) is a versatile direct electrowriting process that permits the development of well-organized fibrous constructs with fiber resolutions ranging from micron to nanoscale. Indeed, MEW offers great prospects for the fabrication of scaffolds mimicking tissue specificity, healthy and pathophysiological microenvironments, personalized multi-scale transitions, and functional interfaces for tissue regeneration in medicine and dentistry. Excitingly, recent work has demonstrated the potential of converging MEW with other AM technologies and/or cell-laden scaffold fabrication (bioprinting) as a favorable route to overcome some of the limitations of MEW for DOC tissue regeneration. In particular, such convergency fabrication strategy has opened great promise in terms of supporting multi-tissue compartmentalization and predetermined cell commitment. In this review, we offer a critical appraisal on the latest advances in MEW and its convergence with other biofabrication technologies for DOC tissue regeneration. We first present the engineering principles of MEW and the most relevant design aspects for transition from flat to more anatomically relevant 3D structures while printing highly-ordered constructs. Secondly, we provide a thorough assessment of contemporary achievements using MEW scaffolds to study and guide soft and hard tissue regeneration, and draw a parallel on how to extrapolate proven concepts for applications in DOC tissue regeneration. Finally, we offer a combined engineering/clinical perspective on the fabrication of hierarchically organized MEW scaffold architectures and the future translational potential of site-specific, single-step scaffold fabrication to address tissue and tissue interfaces in dental, oral, and craniofacial regenerative medicine. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Melt electrowriting (MEW) techniques can further replicate the complexity of native tissues and could be the foundation for novel personalized (defect-specific) and tissue-specific clinical approaches in regenerative dental medicine. This work presents a unique perspective on how MEW has been translated towards the application of highly-ordered personalized multi-scale and functional interfaces for tissue regeneration, targeting the transition from flat to anatomically-relevant three-dimensional structures. Furthermore, we address the value of convergence of biofabrication technologies to overcome the traditional manufacturing limitations provided by multi-tissue complexity. Taken together, this work offers abundant engineering and clinical perspectives on the fabrication of hierarchically MEW architectures aiming towards site-specific implants to address complex tissue damage in regenerative dental medicine.
Full Access Link: Acta Biomaterialia