Biomimetic Hierarchical Scaffolds

Tissues and organs account for a hierarchical structure that determines their functionality. Cells interact with each other and their microenvironment via membrane receptors and acquire distinct morphologies (e.g., spindle vs rounded) and conformations (e.g., aligned vs random or layered vs aggregated) depending on the sensed stiffness and composition. Further, the extracellular matrix of tissues can be assemble into multiple well differentiated layers that define their mechanical properties. Altogether, these properties define the fate of the cell, the composition of the matrix and ultimately the functionality of the tissue.

At BioSmarTE we develop scaffolds that mimic the multiscale hierarchical structure of the native tissues and, hence, can steer host or implanted cells to deposit a specific and coherent extracellular matrix. We make use of biochemical cues that are presented to host or implanted (stem) cells on a spatiotemporal manner to steer their differentiation. To do so, we exploit phase-separating or phase-segregating systems combined with cleavable moieties that respond to endogenous enzymes. Making use of advanced biofabrication technologies, we control cell morphology and orientation through their inclusion into fibrous or porous system and combine them into multilayer systems.