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Biomaterials Group

Deb Lab Research Projects

Biomaterials for regenerative medicine

  • Design of biomimetic and bio-instructive biomaterials for orthopaedic and craniofacial defects, musculoskeletal and nerve repair
  • Bioreactor based bone tissue engineering
  • Orthopaedic bone cements, Wound dressings, Drug delivery matrices

Bone tissue engineering: A large proportion of orthopaedic, craniofacial and spinal surgical procedures require bone grafts and with the growing demands of these surgeries there still remains a need to design a synthetic bone graft that mimics the structure and composition of bone with good surgical handling properties. Current treatments, involving autologous or allogenic grafts, that pose problems of availability and quality in the first case, or associated infection and immune response risks for the second. Thus repair and regeneration of the functional state of damaged bone tissue is a growing need. Although significant advances have been made towards scaffold based bone tissue engineering, clinical translation continue to face many challenges. To address these barriers we are designing both acellular and cell seeded scaffolds to provide sufficient vascularisation, adequate mechanical strength whilst imbibing properties to support osteogenesis.

Biomimetic bone graft substitutes

Composite based porous scaffolds are being designed to allow rapid translation into surgical procedures where a bone graft substitute is required.  Key features of the materials being developed are in line with clinical requirements and market needs. The materials are being designed for easy formabibility and to actively encourage tissue remodelling.  Injectable bone substitutes and blocks that can be shaped by the surgeon are being explored to fit currently unmet critical size bone defects.

Our approaches include:

  • Design of biomimetic and bio-instructive biomaterials for craniofacial defects, and musculoskeletal repair.
  • Orthobiologic grafts
  • Elastomeric tough hydrogel composites
  • Bioreactor based bone tissue engineering:
    • Influence of dynamic flow and mechanical stimulus on osteoblast phenotypic expression and matrix mineralisation
    • Influence of dynamic flow and mechanical stimulus on mesenchymal stem cells in custom scaffolds 

 

 

Porous scaffolds designed to allow rapid translation to surgical procedures where a bone graft substitute is required.  The image on the right illustrates an injectable bone substitute that can be easily placed into a bone voids by the surgeon, a current unmet for critical size bone defects. 

 

Figure demonstrating a series of hierarchically engineered elastomeric hydrogel composite scaffolds with tailorable surface characteristics, which mimic bone extracellular matrix that are currently under process of patent.

 

 

Figure illustrating elastomeric hydrogel dual networks and the group is focussing on their application for bone& nerve tissue engineering. They also have potential as wound dressings, which are being are being currently investigated.

 

Bioreactor based tissue engineering

Bioreactor based tissue engineering studies are ongoing and our system comprising of a cell-seeded CaP construct, which was subjected to mechanical loads can be used to investigate the cell signal pathways involved the formation or resorption process of the bone tissue. This project is supported by the tissue engineering group.

 

Cell seeded monetite cement inside the bioreactor chamber and simulation of the fluid velocity and shear stress values induced inside the bioreactor chamber by imposing a constant flow rate of 100ml/min.

 

Novel antimicrobial agents

Synthesis of novel antimicrobial compounds to decrease the incidence of pathogenic agents invading dental and orthopaedic implants are being developed and surface modification via formation of self-assembly structures that are then functionalised via click chemistry to engineer biomimetic dental implants to achieve long term good clinical outcomes.

 

Biomaterials for dental application

Smart biomaterials to function as dentine substitutes, composites with self-sealing ability for endodontic treatments and surface modification of titanium via click chemistry for periodontal regeneration. The group is also exploring using material chemistry to explore novel techniques in orthodontic bonding that can result in clinically acceptable bond strengths, induce enamel re-mineralization, leave minimal remnant adhesive, and surmount enamel damage encountered upon bracket removal.

Bioengineered dental implant for periodontal ligament regeneration

This is an innovative concept in oral implantology based on a multidisciplinary approach in periodontal regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, which has the potential to significantly affect medical and dental therapies. A biomimetic three-dimensional extracellular matrix-g-Ti scaffold as illustrated in the schematic below that can be implanted in the presence of the appropriate cell cocktail that fulfil all the requirements of PDL tissue engineering.

 

Schematic representation of surface functionalisation of Ti implants

Novel composites for endodontic applications

This project aims to develop a post and core system with improved clinical handling, adhesion, a physico-mechanical properties and long term performance.

 

 

Extruded fibres in different diameters and tapers obtained from the melt-extrusion process of low density polyethylene and hydroxyapatite composites. Image on the right illustrates the radiopacity of the experimental composites (2&3) in comparison to a commercial post (1).  

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