Michael Fenn, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Vipuil Kishore, assistant professor of chemical engineering, recently received a prestigious National Institute of Health grant to pursue research to develop 3-D printed tissue that could eventually be used to repair injured anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in the knee.
As collaborating, dual principal investigators, they seek to produce a 3-D printed Bioglass-based material that compositionally, mechanically and biologically mimics the ACL connective tissue, which ranges from ligament to bone. The aim is that with an accurately engineered scaffolding in place, stem cells will be able to “sense” the appropriate type of specialized cells that they should become (either soft tissue or bone) based on the properties along the gradient, such as texture, stiffness and composition. This may allow the body to better integrate the synthetic implant and create newly regenerated ACL tissue for more rapid and improved healing than current treatments.
The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine reports that more than 150,000 Americans suffer from ACL injuries each year.
Pictured: Bovine collagen and Bioglass particles that were printed in the lab. Once the collagen hydrogel had time to set, the construct was then stained with a dye that stains only the Bioglass red.