The musculoskeletal tissue is the framework of our lives. It holds, shapes and supports freedom of movement of our body and protects the crucial internal organs (brain, heart and lungs). It is responsible for our body’s immunity by providing source of stem cells (bone marrow) that readily transform to immune system cells fighting pathogens, so any damage it poses significant threat to the individual’s quality of life. The patient’s immune system does not only play crucial role in fighting various pathogens but is also vital in inducing normal healing of damaged tissues. Patients, especially with prolonged diseases, ranging from diabetes to HIV tend to have decreasing capacity for healing after injuries due to their compromised immune system. In this project we aim to develop 3D-printed materials instructing the immune systems via the immune cell-material interactions through controlled mechanical properties and biochemical cues organised in 3D manner (i.e. biofabrication using additive manufacturing techniques) for treatment of musculoskeletal defects in patients with immune-system imbalance. Chemical approaches combining synthetic self-assembling peptides and hyaluronic acid together with 2D nanomaterials will be explored for fabrication of such well-defined printable scaffolds with high shape fidelity and gradient-like architecture. In a second step, we hypothesise that reprogramming of patient’s own immune cells (ex-vivo) using the developed printed materials and a microfluidic approach can be achieved through the stimulation of patient’s immune cells interacting with the designed material surfaces to produce the exosomes and signalling molecules (cytokines). Successfully harvested biomolecules would hold potential for personalized therapies in immune-deficient patients and could be re-applied using standard practises and injectable bio-fillers.
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