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LARMOR LECTURE - Design of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds - Still Learning our ABC?

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For many years, there has been interest in the use of biomaterials to replace human tissues damaged by injury or disease. Over time, the materials of choice have gradually changed from those that simply offer mechanical support to those that interact directly with the biological environment. Focus is now on the recruitment and delivery of biological cells to assist in the repair process. With this move from tissue replacement to cell-mediated tissue reconstruction and regeneration (or tissue engineering), there is increasing need for the design of optimised, porous biomaterial structures – often referred to as “Scaffolds”. By first understanding the nature of the tissues that we want to regenerate, it is possible to address the requirements for particular clinical applications.

This talk will consider two scaffold materials: collagen, a highly versatile and bioactive natural macromolecule; and hydroxyapatite, a calcium phosphate material similar in composition to bone mineral. To optimise tissue repair processes, it is important to understand the influence on cell behaviour of the structure of the scaffold, and the interconnections between the pores within them. Choice of scaffold surface chemistry also allows us to balance scaffold “activity” and mechanical performance. There is also a need to consider an appropriate testing environment to mimic the cellular interactions which take place within the body.

This talk will cover the recent work undertaken to study the structure and properties of scaffolds for a range of clinical applications in soft and hard tissue repair.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society series.

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