The development of new polymeric biomaterials designed to stimulate specific cellular responses at the molecular level such as activation of signalling pathways that control gene activity involved in maintenance, growth, and functional regeneration of li ver tissue in vitro could be an important step in tissue engineering. The project is aimed to the development of polymeric synthetic and biodegradable biomaterials to control liver cell responses in vitro and in vivo systems. Isolated hepatocytes are abl e to continue the full range of known in vivo liver specific functions for only a short time. The in vitro maintenance of competent hepatocytes is decidable so that the liver functions can be studied in a controlled environment. Engineered liver tissue c onstructs may provide an inexpensive and reliable in vitro physiological model with great control of variables for studying disease, drug, infection and molecular therapeutics. New modified polyetheretherketone PEEK-WC membranes will be prepared in hollow fiber configurations. Membranes will be prepared by phase inversion technique, which permits to obtain membranes with various structural properties by means of kinetic and thermodynamic parameter control. In addition, the development of synthetic polyme ric materials consisting of nanofiber network scaffolds represents an entirely new approach to tissue engineering that has relied in the past on materials that where either of unknown composition (i.e. Matrigel) or not possible to design (i.e. Collagens ). Thus, the design and preparation of synthetic three-dimensional nanofiber network scaffolds that highly mimic the extracellular matrix will be a valuable tool in the field. The surface of membranes/scaffolds to be utilized in the project will be modif ied by non equilibrium plasma-chemical processes such as Plasma Deposition of thin films (PE-CVD) and Plasma Treatments to adapt their properties to the best compatibility with cells.
- FP6-NMP - Nanotechnologies and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices: thematic priority 3 under the 'Focusing and integrating community research' of the 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area' specific programme 2002-2006.
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