AngiScaff - Angiogenesis-inducing Bioactive and Bioresponsive Scaffolds in Tissue Engineering

If regeneration and repair of tissue could be triggered, a range of medical conditions that involve the failure or loss of tissue could potentially be cured in an efficient way. Examples include large bone defects, chronic wounds and injury to the heart muscle following an infarction. Such approaches, often termed tissue engineeringare dependent on the growth of new blood vessels – angiogenesis. This process is regulated by complex interactions between cells and their surroundings, e.g. the extracellular matrix and different adhesion molecules and growth factors.

Today, a lot is known about how angiogenesis can be controlled by molecular factors, but there is lack of clinically applicable and efficient ways to deliver these at the site of tissue repair. Although there are examples of successful products that have been developed for tissue engineering, there are limitations in how effective there are in a clinical setting. This opens up great possibilities for further technological advances in this field.

To enable access to the full potential of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, AngioScaff aims to develop new biomaterials based on biological design principles. Rather than to use biomaterials as passive carriers of growth factors, AngioScaff will develop materials that can interact with the physiological environment and present molecular cues in a way that responds to the process of tissue regeneration. Furthermore, by using materials that are injectable, the clinical treatments can be performed by injection with a syringe to replace open surgery.

AngioScaff is a large international project that is financed by the EU 7th Framework Programme. Our part in this project is to develop materials based on the natural polysaccharide hyaluronic acid. By chemically modifying this polymer, it is possible to obtain functional gels that will act as delivery materials for growth factors and that can stimulate angiogenesis and tissue regeneration. Other modifications may give materials that can be used to deliver genetic material. Through AngioScaff, our knowledge of materials synthesis is combined with knowledge about the biological conditions for angiogenesis. This way, we will be able to create new treatments that harness the ability of the human body for self-repair.

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