3D Materials for Bioengineered Tissue Replacements
A major cause of back pain, which costs the UK £13 billion annually, is intervertebral back disc degeneration. The treatment goal is to produce a scaffold structure by micro-stereolithography, specific to the size and shape of the disc to be replaced, and to apply stem cells which then grow into the structure. The scaffold material is then slowly degraded as the cells begin to differentiate and produce the extracellular material found in the normal tissue. This creates an implant for replacement of the diseased tissue.
The shape of the solid material produced can be finely controlled using micro-stereolithography as the examples below show compared to the size of a 5p coin.
As the current plastics used in micro-stereolithography do not degrade to small molecules which can be easily cleared, I synthesised 2-methylene-1,3-dioxepane as below.
The blended materials were non-toxic to cells and maintained the tensile strength of the original. My results were presented at the MOAC Doctoral Training Centre annual conference. My poster is available here.