Tissue engineering aims at creating biological alternatives to harvested tissues and organs for transplantation. Scaffolding plays a crucial role in the 3-dimensional neo tissue formation. Synthetic biodegradable polymers are attractive candidates for scaffolding fabrication because they do not carry the risk of pathogen transmission and immuno-rejection, and because they degrade and resorb after fulfilling the scaffolding function, therefore eliminating the long-term inflammation and complications associated with foreign body reactions. As these scaffolds need to support cell and tissue viability and function, their 3-dimensional structure needs to be comparable to that of the native tissue or organ, many of which have tubular or fibrous bundle architectures.
Researchers at The University of Michigan have developed design and fabrication methods of highly porous (up to 97%) scaffolds from biodegradable polymers with a novel phase-separation technique to generate controllable parallel array of micro-tubular architecture. Using this method, polymers can be fabricated into microporous structures with oriented, parallel tubular pores, whose porosity, diameter of the micro-tubes, the tubular morphology and their orientation may be controlled by the polymer concentration, solvent system and temperature gradient. These microporous structures may be used as a scaffold for osteoblastic cells, and when cultured in vitro, cell distribution and the neo-tissue organization are guided by the micro-tubular architecture.
Applications and Advantages
- Engineering of tissues with anisotropic architecture and properties
- Controllable pore characteristics
- Methods are applicable to a variety of-nl-polymers; cell-matrix interactions may be-nl-controlled by the chemical composition of-nl-the polymers and the incorporation of-nl-bioactive moieties