Bio-printing and tissue engineering is based on the development of high precision polymers that, when seeded with cells, can drive the developement of healthy tissues and organs. These materials should therefore behave as fluids during their injection to a defect, (such as a bone fracture or a cartilage defect) but subsequentely act as temporary scaffolds that support the development of a functional tissue. As there are many scientific challenges in creating such materials, our objective is to generate a fundamental knowledge of their mechanical and dynamical requirements. We do so by pursuing both practical and fundamental questions:
1. Hydrogel based tissue engineering. In close collaboration with tissue engineers from the Bryant group (CU Boulder), we study the chemo-mechanics PEG hydrogel for use as temporary scaffolds to regrow cartilage in patients with osteoarthritis. For this, we develop computational models of cell-seeded hydrogels that locally degrade to make place for new tissue development. We use the model to identify the type of hydrogel structure and dynamics that enables long-term tissue growth (and scaffold disapperance) with continuous mechanical integrity.
2. Hydrogel based organoid
3. Tumour growth in controlled environment