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Stimuli-Responsive Polymer 3D-Scaffolds Guide Cell Fate for Soft Tissue Regeneration

Abstract: The cellular microenvironment is dynamic, remodeling tissues lifelong. The biomechanical properties and morphology of the extracellular matrix (ECM) influence the function and differentiation of cells and stem cells. While conventional artificial matrices or scaffolds for tissue engineering are primarily static and passive models presenting well-defined stiffness, they lack the responsive changes required in dynamic physiological settings. Engineering synthetic scaffolds with varying elastic moduli is possible, but often lead to stiffening and chemical crosslinking of molecular structure with limited control over scaffold architecture. The presentation will give an overview about recent development of thermal-responsive elastomer scaffolds with tuneable stiffness and hierarchical structure. The different cellular responses and differentiation during the stiffness relaxation of 3D printed scaffolds in vitro and in vivo have been systematically studied. The stiffness relaxation is found to regulate proliferation and differentiation of human bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBM-MSCs) towards the chondrogenic and osteogenic lineages. The optimised epithelium of human bronchial epithelial cells co-culture with hBM-MSCs on the functionalised scaffolds demonstrate layered respiratory-like tissue. The results offer a reproducible patient-specific approach to generate physiologically relevant 3D biomimetic systems and advance our understanding of soft tissue regeneration for drug discovery, organ regeneration and surgical reconstruction.

Speaker: Professor Wenhui Song

Wenhui Song is Professor of Biomaterials and Medical Engineering and head of the UCL Centre for Biomaterials in Surgical Reconstruction and Regeneration. Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, University College London. She completed her PhD and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge, and started her academic career as lecturer and senior lecturer in Brunel University, London. She specialises in macromolecular materials, nanomaterials, nanocomposites and biomanufacturing for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.  Currently she is coordinating and participating a number of major multi-disciplinary projects funded by EPSRC, BBSRC, Royal Society, Wellcome Trust, BHF, GSK, working on the development of artificial tissues/organs, implantable biosensors and devices. She has authored/co-authored over 80 highly-cited publications including Nature, Science, Advanced Materials, Biomaterials and 4 book chapters.

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