Biodegradable polymers have been widely used as scaffolding materials to regenerate new tissues. In addition to material biocompatibility, physical parameters of the material is central in the successful integration of the seeded cells into the biomaterial as well as the integration of the construct into the host upon implantation. Some of these physical parameters include the form of the material (fibers, spheres, etc.), porosity, pore geometry, and mechanical properties.
This invention by University of Michigan researchers describes a novel highly porous three-dimensional structure, comprised of biodegradable polymers with fiber diameters in the nanometer scale, which approximate the morphology of native collagenous extracellular matrices. These manufactured nano-fibers range from 50 to 500 nm in diameter, which is well within the range of naturally occurring collagen fibers. Moreover, nano-fiber organization as viewed by electron microscopy shows very similar organization to native collagen fibers. Manufacture of the nano-fibrous matrices does not involve complicated textile processes such as fiber extrusion. Interfiber spacing, porosity, pore geometry, as well as mechanical properties of the fibrous matrix can all be tailored to specific application needs. Additionally, the surface to volume ratios of the nano-fibrous matrices is two to three orders of magnitude higher than those of fibrous nonwoven fabrics fabricated with the textile technology, or for foams fabricated with the particulate-leaching technique. By combining the advantages of synthetic biodegradable polymers with nano scale manufacturing processes, these artificial extracellular-like matrices have desirable mechanical properties suitable to a variety of applications.
Applications and Advantages
- Tissue engineering
- Implants as tendon and facia prosthetics
- Product packaging
- Customizable material properties
- Increased surface to volume ratio