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Posted: Nov 29, 2013
Tendon regeneration with biomimetic scaffolds
(Nanowerk News) Tendons are fibrous connective tissues composed mostly of collagen, and connect muscle to bone to enable movement. Tendon injuries are not only painful but also disabling as they take a long time to heal.
The EU-funded TENDON REGENERATION project is a collaboration between industry and academia working to develop a 3D scaffold that mimics natural tendons in order to promote tendon healing. Scientists will design and develop fibrous composites of collagen–resilin in a 3D construct to match the properties of tendons and enhance the tendon regeneration process.
To obtain collagen–resilin composites, the preparation processes for collagen and resilin were first successfully optimised. Suitable biocompatible cross-linking methods were selected to obtain stable collagen fibres that resemble native tendon structure. Several composites of fibre have thus been produced, stabilised and functionalised using different combinations of cross linkers and functionalising molecules. These are currently being evaluated using in vitro and in vivo tests.
In addition, cell isolation and culture protocols for tendon stem cells and tenocytes (also called tendon cells) were optimised to maintain their phenotype in culture. Studies are under way to assess whether the novel collagen-resilin composites can maintain tendon-derived cell phenotype and differentiate other stem cells towards tenogenic lineage.
Researchers will further optimise processes to develop prototypes of collagen–resilin composite constructs with and without tendon derived cells that are suitable for clinical application. Successful outcomes will provide effective therapeutic options for patients suffering from tendon injuries.
Study outcomes have yielded novel insights into the role of the biophysical characteristics of the 3D collagen-resilin composite on the cellular behaviour, scientific publications in high impact factor journals and several podium presentations and invited talks in international conferences and meetings. These results could also be extrapolated to produce collagen-based therapy for tissue regeneration of other organs, placing the EU ahead in the biomaterials and tissue engineering sectors.