R&D activity at CBIT focuses on the engineering of the cell-material interface. We develop and manufacture new material-based systems of biomedical interest, where the combined use of biomaterials with cells and biochemical and physical factors overcomes limitations in current solutions in tissue engineering, drug delivery or in vitro modelling of healthy and pathological tissues.
In our labs we routinely use chemical synthesis and micro manufacturing techniques to develop systems with optimal properties and topology for their intended application. We use techniques such as template and particle leaching, freeze extraction, freeze gelation, thermal phase separation, electrospinning, spraying, microfluidics, 3D printing, synthesis of copolymers, nanohybrids, macromers, hyperbranched polymers, to manufacture cell culture or drug delivery constructs such as scaffolds, membranes, gels, threads or microparticle-based media. Sometimes a support surface is modified with functional biological properties, adhering or grafting whole proteins or fragments, peptides, and other macromolecules that give us control of the cell interaction with their synthetic microenvironment. Our general goal is for these material-based systems to improve cell function in a variety of applications, for instance guide stem cell differentiation towards a particular phenotype in vitro or in vivo, or mimic cell interactions with the extracelular matrix or other cell types in in vitro models or allow cell colonization and conductivity of regenerated tissues in an implant, and so forth.
Materials for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. We design and manufacture material 3D constructs, based on a variety of biodegradable and biostable polymers and ceramics, that feature required characteristics for living cells and tissue to perform their function. We are working or have worked towards applications for articular cartilage, the osteochondral complex, bone regeneration, bone fusion, intervertebral disc implants, dentistry materials, peripheral and central nervous system, ophthalmology, cardiac tissue regeneration and tendon/ligaments implants.
Supports for cell culture. A complementary and sometimes first avenue of research to clinical therapeutic applications is the development of materials and systems that support in vitro cell culture and stem cell differentiation and expansion. These material based culture systems are then used as reseach tools by ourselves and others in the research community to advance our understanding of cell and stem cell biology in health and disease, and to design in vitro models that can be used to screen in different ways to find useful molecules, predicting their therapeutic effect or their toxicity, as future pharmaceutical products.