Advance in 3-D printing could have broad applications
An international study published in the journal Nature Communications points the way toward wider, more effective use of biocompatible materials in repairing human tissues. Focusing on the difficult case of restoring cartilage, which requires both flexibility and mechanical strength, the researchers investigated a new combination of 3-D printed microfiber scaffolding and hydrogels. The composites they tested showed elasticity and stiffness comparable to knee-joint tissue, as well as the ability to support the growth and cross-linking of human cartilage cells. Researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) expect the new approach to have an impact on other areas of soft-tissue engineering research, including breast reconstruction and heart tissue engineering.
A new 3-D printing technique called melt electrospinning writing played a key role, simultaneously providing room for cell growth as well as the needed mechanical stiffness. This method offers much more freedom in the design of scaffolding to promote healing and growth of new tissue, explains Prof. Dietmar W. Hutmacher, one of the lead authors. "It allows us to more closely imitate nature's way of building joint cartilage," he says, "which means reinforcing a soft gel - proteoglycans or, in our case, a biocompatible hydrogel - with a network of very thin fibers." Scaffolding filaments produced by melt electrospinning writing can be as thin as five micrometers in diameter, a 20-fold improvement over conventional methods.
Based at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, Prof. Hutmacher is a Hans Fischer Senior Fellow of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study. His TUM-IAS Focus Group on Regenerative Medicine is hosted by TUM Prof. Arndt Schilling, head of the Research Dept. of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery at TUM's university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar.
Multi-pronged study of a versatile technology
The collaborators - working in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK - brought a wide range of research tools to bear on this investigation. Efforts focusing on the design, fabrication, and mechanical testing of hydrogel-fiber composites were complemented by comparisons with equine knee-joint cartilage, experiments with the growth of human cartilage cells in the artificial matrix, and computational simulations.
All the evidence points in the direction of what Hutmacher calls, cautiously, a breakthrough. Having validated the computer model of their hydrogel-fiber composites, the researchers are using it to assess a variety of potential applications. "The new approach looks promising not only for joint repair, but also for uses such as breast reconstruction following a post-tumor mastectomy or heart tissue engineering," Prof. Hutmacher says. "We need to implant the scaffolding under the muscle, and fiber-reinforced hydrogel could prove critical in regenerating large volumes of breast tissue, as well as the biomechanically highly loaded heart valves."
Prof. Hutmacher and his collaborators at TUM - Prof. Arndt Schilling, PD. Dr. Jan-Thorsten Schantz, and Dr. Elizabeth Balmayor - already plan to use the approach described in the Nature Communications paper for their breast tissue engineering research They also have begun a project, in collaboration with the group of Prof. Stefan Jockenhövel and Dr. Petula Mela at the RWTH Aachen, on engineering heart valve tissue.
This research has been supported by grants from the European Commission (PIOF-GA-282286, the European Union's FP7 (n309962 - HydroZONES), the Dutch government (NIRM, grant nFES0908), the Dutch Arthritis Foundation, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. The TUM-IAS receives support from the German Excellence Initiative and the EU's FP7 (Marie Curie COFUND).
Reinforcement of hydrogels using three-dimensionally printed microfibres. Jetze Visser, Ferry P.W. Melchels, June E. Jeon, Erik M. van Bussel, Laura S. Kimpton, Helen M. Byrne, Wouter J. A. Dhert, Paul D. Dalton, Dietmar W. Hutmacher, and Jos Malda. Nature Communications, 28 April 2015. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7933.
Technische Universität München (TUM) is one of Europe's leading research universities, with around 500 professors, 10,000 academic and non-academic staff, and more than 37,000 students. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, reinforced by schools of management and education. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with a campus in Singapore as well as offices in Beijing, Brussels, Cairo, Mumbai, and São Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel and Carl von Linde have done research at TUM. In 2006 and 2012 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.
Patrick Regan | EurekAlert!
Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences