PhD project title and outline, including interdisciplinary dimension:
3D-printed bioscaffolds incorporating peptide hydrogel for use in regenerative medicine
This project will, for the first time, study the hybridisation of low molecular weight, biofunctional, hydrogel forming peptides, with polymer-based bioresorbable materials to produce personalised 3D-printed scaffolds suitable for a variety of applications in regenerative medicine.
Bioresorbable polymers such as poly-lactic-glycolic acid (PLGA) and poly-caprolactone (PCL) have important advantages over metals because they are temporary, much less stiff, and radiolucent. They hold significant advantages over synthetic polymers being less likely to foster infection and free from potentially toxic leachables. We intend to use these materials in a novel 3D printing process to combine up to two different biopolymers in a single scaffold, which can be wholly tailored to the shape and resorption profile required.
Peptides, the building blocks of tissue and extracellular matrices, have superior biocompatibility and can be functionalised to provide tailored therapeutic benefit including anti-inflammatory, infection resistance, improved cell adhesion and differentiation. We intend to use these novel hydrogelating peptides for scaffold coating and/or imbibing to produce additional therapeutic benefit.
The versatility provided by this unique combination of technologies and materials will afford the ability to advance tissue engineering to meet very specific clinical demand. Our platform technology will be of significant benefit within the areas of bone, wound, spinal, and tissue repair (e.g. after cancer surgery).
Our project will encompass a multidisciplinary approach involving biopharmaceutical science (Laverty), formulation and pharmaceutical engineering (Boyd), biomechanical engineering (Cunningham) and a medical 3D printing company (Axial3D, Belfast) to meet the following goals:
- Formulation of peptide loaded polymers (Laverty, Boyd)
- Production of tailored, bioresorbable 3D-printed scaffolds (Boyd, Cunningham, Axial3D)
- Hybridisation of 3D printed scaffolds with hydrogel forming, functionalised peptide (Cunningham, Boyd, Laverty)
- Determination of antimicrobial activity of scaffolds against clinically relevant pathogens (Laverty)
- Evaluation of biocompatibility and tissue growth/differentiation (Laverty)