When materials are implanted into the body they initiate an inflammatory response that is difficult to control. Consequently medical implants are tolerated by the body rather than fully integrated; the material is often sealed off from the body in a fibrotic capsule. Most recent research suggests that morphology is a decisive immunomodulatory trigger and may favor a healing-like reaction of the innate immune system, especially of macrophages.
I have pioneered a single-step method to generate non-woven fibrous scaffolds with surface chemistry control that allows specific cell adhesion. Additionally, my laboratory recently established melt electrospinning writing (MEW) that allows automated scaffold production by solvent-free electrostatic drawing with precise morphology control through rational deposition of polymer filaments in micrometer resolution.
Design2Heal is based on this world-wide unique combination of technologies and proposes to combine form (scaffold morphology) with function (surface chemistry) to generate biomaterials that are designed to heal and improve implant integration. Pioneering and ground breaking research within Design2Heal includes:
• A single-step procedure to fabricate MEW scaffolds with controlled surface functionalities for specific bioactivation.
• Unraveling the immunomodulatory potential of generic scaffold parameters (diameter, morphology) and surface functionalization (peptides, sugars, glycosaminoglycans) for rationally designed scaffolds in vitro with primary human innate immune cells.
• Resolve the immunomodulatory effects of cellular cross-talk and interaction between human immune cells, mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells in defined geometric confinements.
• In vivo proof-of-principle in the murine model
In case of success, Design2Heal will be a ground breaking first step towards actively healing implants independently of the affected tissue, with tremendous impact on healthcare worldwide.
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