The main interests of the team include:
- development of new materials for medicine;
- tissue engineering and regenerative medicine;
- 3D printing of polymers, composites (FDM/SLA) and metals (SLM);
- 3D bioprinting – printing of cells and tissues via biofabrication strategies;
- 3D melt electrowriting (MEW);
- electrospinning and encapsulation from solutions;
- characterization of biomaterials;
- advanced 3D imaging techniques using micro- and nano-computed tomography methods;
- computer modeling of new materials, tissues and tissue engineering products;
- drug delivery systems – micro and nanocapsules, coatings, and 3D printed systems.
Our research areas
Biomaterials Design and Development
The study of novel biomaterials has become crucial for material scientists and engineers. Polymers, ceramics, metals and composites must fulfill the biomedical applications of the proposed biomaterial. Indeed, we design and develop these materials considering both technical aspects and biological activities to potentially replace the native function of a defective/diseased tissue by interacting with host biological system. Such materials are designed to provide an architectural framework to encourage cell growth and eventual tissue regeneration.
Biofabrication strategies are very suitable for the automated manufacturing of biological constructs of clinically relevant size characterized by multi-scale, biomimetic architectures. It relies on the strucutural organization of biomaterials together with bioactive molecules and living cells, to promote the tissue maturation process in the frame of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Biofabrication is further ramified in bioprinting or bioassembly approaches. In our lab we employ the most advanced 3D bioprinting technologies, mainly for hydrogel biomaterials, focusing on extrusion-based bioprinting, melt electrowriting, and microfluidic-assisted strategies as co-axial wet-spinning.
3D printing (3DP) aims to create three-dimensional objects by depositing the material in a layer-by-layer fashion until the object, produced from a digital file, is formed. The Biomaterials Group use 3D printing technologies for thermoplastic filaments (Fusion Deposition Melting – FDM), photocurable resins (Stereolithography/Low Force Stereolithography – SLA/LFS) and metal powders (Selective Laser Melting/Laser Powder Bed Fusion – SLM/LPBF). 3DP biomedical materials include dental implants, surgical models, patient (animal/human)-specific prostheses and prototypes of e.g., bones and organs, and 3D tissue scaffolds.
As medical technology advances, more materials are being considered for potential human implantation, including biodegradable implants. Biodegradable implants are intended to provide initial fixation strength while permitting degradation and replacement by host tissue. Magnesium and its alloys, as biodegradable metals, are among the most promising materials for bone fixation applications. This has resulted in extensive research aimed at enhancing the mechanical properties, ensuring their biocompatibility, and tailoring their rate of degradation based on the manufacturing, microstructure investigations, and study of their corrosion performance by in vitro and in vivo studies.
Drug Delivery Systems
Drug delivery strategies are applied to deliver therapeutic molecules at the site of action, with low or no effect on other cells or tissues. Biological compounds, such as proteins, antibodies, antibiotics, or others, can be delivered using 3D printing technologies, controlled release formulations, or nanomedicine. In our laboratory, we apply these strategies in combination to promote cell proliferation, differentiation, or prevention of bacterial infections, including biofilm formation on medical devices and infection of surrounding tissues.
3D Cancer Models
We develop novel functional 3D tissue-specific and tumor-on-a-chip models to investigate cancer mechanism, metastasis and progression. We use innovative biofabrication methods – multi-biomaterial and multi cell-type 3D printing – to fabricate biomimetic and functional tissues. We focus on in vitro cancer cells intravasation and extravasation to understand complex and pathophysiologically relevant research questions, to translate the applications ex vivo. We aim to establish cancer models to test new therapeutic strategies that could be of high interest for biomaterials and biomedical companies, pharmaceutical industries and for personalized medicine.