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Fibrous Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering

Principal investigator: N. Hughes-Brittain
Co-investigator(s): C. Sanchez, and Cees BASTIAANSEN

Multi-functional fibres for tissue engineering scaffolds are developed with photoembossed surface topologies and skin-core structures for added bioactivity.Electrospinning is today the leading technique available for the processing of fibrous scaffolds for tissue engineering. The uniqueness of this technique over other conventional methods is its ability to spin continuous nano-featured scaffolds with large surface to volume ratios and an interconnected porous geometry with spatial orientation. These factors are essential for cellular growth functions in-vitro and in-vivo as they are directly involved in the transport of oxygen and nutrient supports to the cells.

In this project, fibres with photoembossed relief structures are developed to stimulate and guide cell growth. It is known that cell growth is highly affected by surface topology such as the shape and length scales of the surface relief structures. Here, micro- and nanostructuring of fibres is performed to induce new functionalities and to adapt this technology to fabricate scaffolds suitable for tissue engineering applications using a variety of polymers. Another area of research focuses on the formation of bi- and/or multi-component fibres, hence allowing for the introduction of multi-functionality. Here, the skin of the bi-component fibre can be used to add functionalities through the use of different biodegradable polymers, drug release agents, additives for bioactivity, growth factors etc., while the core serves a more structural purpose. In addition, by combining polymers with different degradation profiles these fibres allow for the creation of specific degradation profiles that are tailored to the specific application.