The current ageing population is faced with an ever increasing shortage of donor tissue for the repair or replacement of damaged tissues. Tissue engineering is a promising strategy to cope with this shortage. However, even though tissue engineering has been an active field of research for several decades, the number of clinical successes is limited. This is often due to a lack of integration and survival of the engineered tissue after implantation.
PreVascIn proposes that the integration and survival of an engineered tissue can be significantly improved by including both a vascular and a neural network. Adding both a vascular and a neural network to an engineered tissue greatly enhances the complexity of this tissue. The cells forming the different tissue components each require different local environments to develop properly. This means that the local environment of individual structures need to be controlled and that current standard approaches, such as simply seeding cells within a scaffold material, are insufficient. As a better alternative approach, in this project I propose to use the ‘Living Legos’ building block system, combined with the use of matrix elasticity and local growth factor delivery to control formation of the separate tissue components. This provides a strong control of tissue development, potentially allowing for the engineering of the vascularized and innervated tissue from a single cell source, as will be investigated in this project. The development of the modular and self-assembly properties of the proposed approach has great potential to result in a highly flexible system, easily translatable to other applications and engineered tissues.
Fields of science
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