Bone tissue engineering is a new research area with clinical applications in the replacement of diseased or damaged bone tissues. The challenge of tissue engineering is to develop a suitable bone scaffold with sufficient porosity and mechanical strength to allow for cell adhesion, migration, growth, and proliferation, resulting in a good integration with the surrounding tissues. The aim of this project is the development and the characterisation of novel macroporous scaffolds made of ceramic/polymer composites, with controlled biodegradability, to be used for drug delivery systems in tissue engineering applications.
Our purpose is to prepare, by using different techniques, composite scaffolds made of a macroporous bioactive ceramic and a biodegradable polymer coating, which will be loaded with relevant macromolecules or growth factors. By combining biodegradability and bioactivity, optimised scaffolds for tissue engineering can be produced. Moreover, the biodegradable scaffold can be used as a controlled delivery system; in this application, the porosity controls the amount of drugs (antibiotics, antimicrobials, and growth factors) that can be incorporated.
Optimisation of the scaffold structure is essential to achieve both adequate mechanical and biological response of the composite for applications in tissue engineering. To enhance the composite - tissue biological interaction is important to obtain an interconnected porous structure of the scaffold. We will investigate the macro and microstructure of the porous composites. Moreover, we will study the mechanical, biological, and clinical response of the novel ceramic - polymer composite after contact with simulated body fluid and relevant cells. Cell culturing experiments will be carried out to assess the biological behaviour of the composites. Finally, we will investigate the dependence of the drug delivery profiles on the scaffold biodegradation.
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