Oct 13, 2021
Tell us about your experience in the field of bone tissue regeneration.
The structure and function of bone with the various hierarchy levels have always fascinated and attracted me. With my intense interest in the intricate design of bone, I dedicated my postgraduate project to fabricating and mimicking the anisotropic structure of bone. In my research, I developed a bottom-up approach to fabricate scaffolds that would serve as a guiding template for cells to adhere and align with the pattern. The patterned substrate acted as a guide for the cells to lay down the matrix and collectively assist in faster tissue regeneration.
My research led me to be more and more curious about the complexity of nature and as the famous saying goes: “The first five years have so much to do with how the next eighty turn out to be”; I receive the ultimate motivation to nurture my long-found passion towards artificial models to clinically applicable biomaterials which could improve the health and the well-being of the people at large.
The technique most commonly used for bone tissue regeneration is a bone graft, where surgeons place existing, gathered bone mass from another source and graft it to the section of bone being repaired. Are biomaterials and 3D printing the next big things for bone tissue regeneration? Will they replace the existing methods?
“We have the technology, and we can rebuild him.” When M. Caidin talked about the bionic man in his novel Cyborg 45 years back, it was fiction. It is no longer fiction, and regeneration is now close to reality. With a sedentary lifestyle and early aging in our population, skeletal loss and bone defects are significant issues worldwide, and bone is the most transplanted tissue next to blood. Allograft (bone from donor or cadaver) has been used as a gold standard in clinical practice.
However, increased demands to supply ratio and issues of disease transmission has fuelled the use of synthetic and tissue-engineered bone grafts. I believe that the current technology (biomaterials and 3D printing) can address the issues related to bone disorders and subsequently rebuild them to ease or cure a significant portion of the affected population.
What does it mean for your career to join a project like INKplant?
A project like INKplant is a platform that provides an opportunity to bring new technologies to a broader audience globally. A consortium of experts from different backgrounds helps me grow my knowledge and make a substantial difference in the future.
How did you come to the idea that the self-assembling peptide hydrogels were suitable for inkjet printing?
The self-assembling peptides have been used clinically for hemostasis for a decade now. In other words, an organism can cause blood in a liquid state to remain in blood vessels. The CE mark and the product for this process in surgery and the research-grade of the peptide (PuraMatrix) used for many studies show that the peptides act as a matrix supporting cell growth and proliferation. The idea to use self-assembling peptides hydrogels for a new technology such as 3D printing came about a few years ago. We did several studies to test its feasibility for extrusion printing. After the success of extrusion printing, we wanted to extend it to inkjet printing technology, and what better than the INKplant project!
3-D Matrix has conducted two pilot studies using PuraMatrix® as a dental bone void filler, how is this connected with INKplant?
Both studies to evaluate the feasibility of Purastat showed there was a good formation of new vital bone, and the implants placed in the graft were successful at six months after prosthesis placement (loading), as defined by the Health Scale for Dental Implants.
This study using the self-assembling peptide for dental application is in line with the INKplant project objectives and acts as supporting evidence to use self-assembling peptides for such applications – of course, to explore the potential of printed scaffolds with multiple materials.