Tissue engineering combines cells, scaffolds and bioactive molecules to either improve or replace biological tissues. Conventionally tissue engineering combines cells, bioactive molecules and support structures, called scaffolds to e.g. heal a damage site or restore the tissue functionality. Electrospinning plays a pivotal role among the biofabrication techniques used to produce these scaffolds. Such scaffolds can be used as support system for cell seeding and the consequent implantation in the patient as well as reservoir system for drugs and bioactive molecules delivery. Examples of electrospun medical devices are already available on the market and many more are currently applied in clinical studies.
Tissue engineering covers a broad range of tissues and applications which drive the design of the scaffolds. Electrospinning provides the right flexibility to obtain the scaffold characteristics adequate for the various targeted tissues. For example, in cardiovascular tissue engineering a conduit shape will be required, while for wound dressing a patch will be more suitable. IME provides additional tools to further fine tune the electrospinning process to match the mechanical and structural properties of the healthy tissue, increasing the success rate of the implanted scaffold.
In the last decade a variant of tissue engineering has emerged, the so called in situ tissue engineering. This more cost effective approach relies on the patient’s natural regeneration potential. A 3D biodegradable scaffold, available off-the-shelf, is implanted at the site of destination, where it gradually transforms into a neo-tissue, using the patient’s body as the bioreactor. To do so, immune cells must be balanced between their pro- and anti-inflammatory activity. Electrospinning allows to act on immune cells behavior with the geometry and size of the fibers, rather than with secondary agents such as drugs. Such purely polymeric scaffold make the legislator affairs much leaner, drastically reducing the costs and shorten the time and to market. In the last few years IME machines were applied to produce synthetic degradable cardiovascular implants currently used in pre-clinical and clinical studies.
Find out more about publications of electrospinning in the field of tissue engineering.