NJCBM members have recently published an article titled “Optimization of Polymer-ECM Composite Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering: Effect of Cells and Culture Conditions on Polymeric Nanofiber Mats” in the Journal of Functional Biomaterials.
Tissues, such as bone and tendons, grow on a substance called the extracellular matrix (ECM), which is made up of protein and polysaccharides. The ECM provides both physical framework and biochemical cues to the tissues. So when we want to regrow tissue, it is ideal to have a scaffold made of ECM for the tissue to adhere and grow on.
This paper discusses a study that looked into scaffolds made from a mixture of synthetic polymers and ECM. The polymers were invented at NJCBM and are designed to dissolve into the body at different rates. As the polymer dissolves the goal is to replace the polymer with ECM, resulting in a scaffold made of only ECM. Finding the right degradation rate for the polymer was the focus of this study.
If the polymers degraded too quickly the ECM scaffold didn’t have enough structural integrity, and if the polymers degraded too slowly they didn’t allow the ECM to replace the polymer network. A polymer with a medium degradation rate resulted in the best scaffolds. The scaffolds held their structure and the polymer was replaced by ECM as desired.
NJCBM’s mission is to improve patient care and public health through the development of future generations of biomaterials. This work on tissue scaffolds will hopefully eventually lead to scaffolds that encourage cell growth through both structure and biological cues and will enable us to heal serious injuries with patient’s own tissue.
The full paper can be found at the following link: http://www.mdpi.com/2079-4983/8/1/1/html
Image: ECM (stained red) on the scaffold