Tissue engineering and drug delivery
Can you mend a broken heart? How to repair a damaged knee? Tissue engineering is a field dedicated to repair or construct tissues and whole organs. This can be done by using cells from a patient and artificial or natural cells scaffolds. The combination of both allows for the formation of a three-dimensional environment in which cells can proliferate and communicate, leading to the regeneration of damaged tissue. The most common cause for such treatment is a trauma or surgery, which involves the creation of a lesion in our body. Such damage can be supplemented with the scaffold containing autologous cells (from the same individual to which they will be re-implanted), allogenic cells (from a donor of the same species), xenogeneic cells (from a different species) or stem cells that, with the use of specific growth factors, have the ability to differentiate into specialized forms of cells.
Such growth factors or other drugs can be supplied to the culture medium or implantation site by single delivery, e.g. through injection. In such a case, drug concentration will abruptly increase in body fluids and slowly decrease in time to the level that is below the desired or therapeutic effect. To overcome this, scientists engineered materials that deliver specific drugs in a controlled manner. These materials can release specific substances over days or months and protect patients from the adverse effects of overdosing drugs.
Our research in this field led to the production of advanced biomaterials used in regenerative medicine. The project on the prevention of post-traumatic changes in the brain tissue performed at the IPPT PAN succeeded with the production of a nanofibrous dressing that releases drugs at the site of damage. The material used in the animal studies caused inhibition of the degeneration processes of the brain tissue. The process of degeneration that frequently occurs over time after the injury, in the worst cases may lead to the patient's death. After the clinical trials, nanofibrous dressings can be used in patients undergoing brain or spinal cord neurosurgical treatment, avoiding the adverse consequences of progressive nerve tissue damage occurring after injury.