Among the various possible embodiements of Advanced Therapies and in particular of Tissue Engineering, the use of temporary scaffolds to regenerate tissue defects is one of the key issues. The scaffolds should be specifically designed to create environments that promote tissue development and not merely to support the maintenance of communities of cells. To achieve that goal, highly functional scaffolds may combine specific morphologies and surface chemistry with the local release of bioactive agents.
Many biomaterials have been proposed to produce scaffolds aiming the regeneration of a wealth of human tissues. We have a particular interest in developing systems based in biodegradable polymers. Those demanding applications require a combination of mechanical properties, processability, cell-friendly surfaces and tunable biodegradability that need to be tailored for the specific application envisioned. Those biomaterials are usually processed by different routes into devices with a wide range of morphologies such as biodegradable fibers and meshes, films or particles and adaptable to different biomedical applications. For advanced therapies combining the scaffold with cells, it is critical to design scaffolds with adequate porosity enabling inner cell colonization and stimulating cells to attach and grow enabling obtaining a volume of neo-tissue. Furthermore, it is important to optimize the surface properties to provide the needed cues for the cells to differentiate into a stable phenotype conducive to the desired tissue regeneration and to ensure an adequate interaction with the host tissues.
In our approach, we combine the temporary scaffolds populated with therapeutically relevant communities of cells to generate a hybrid implant. For that we have explored different sources of adult and also embryonic stem cells. We are exploring the use of adult MSCs, namely obtained from the bone marrow for the development autologous-based therapies. We also develop strategies based in extra-embryonic tissues, such as the perivascular region of the umbilical cord (Wharton ́s Jelly) or the amniotic fluid and membranes.
This talk will review the basic concepts required for the development of natural-based biomaterials and scaffolds in combination with stem cells for advanced biomedical devices and therapies.