Biomaterials in Tissue Engineering
Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical
and Biomolecular Engineering Rice University
The winner of the 2007 Pritzker Distinguished Lectureship Antonius G. Mikos, presented a plenary lecture at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).
Over the past 15 years, the Mikos laboratory at Rice University has been deeply involved in the application of fundamentals of engineering and biological sciences toward the development of novel materials to repair clinically significant injuries through tissue engineering. Toward this end, Mikos and his associates have created several novel materials based on fumaric acid, a natural product found in mammalian cell metabolism. They have demonstrated these designer biodegradable materials to be non-toxic to surrounding cells and tissues in vivo. Additionally, Mikos and his associates have formulated these materials in a way that they can be directly injected and cured, with or without the presence of cells, at the site of injury to aid immediately in the formation of repair tissue. This development, coupled with the inherent biodegradability of the materials, offers a great advantage in that no invasive surgeries would be needed for either application or removal of implants.
While developing these materials, the Mikos group has systematically explored methods for chemical modification to control their properties, such that materials can be designed for specific sites in the body to have both appropriate mechanical and biological signals to restore damaged tissue. Recently, the Mikos group has been working on composite scaffolding materials that can provide support and guidance to a developing tissue and allow for the controlled release of bioactive molecules, including peptides, proteins, and plasmid DNA, needed to form functional new tissue. Moreover, they are investigating nano-structured materials as new alternatives for scaffolding materials with enhanced mechanical properties for load-bearing orthopedic applications.
The scaffolds developed by the Mikos group are ideal for use in tissue engineering to provide defined niches to stem cells, direct their differentiation and induce localized, specific repair of tissues in a timely manner. Through methodical examination of the interplay between scaffold material properties and tissue development and the application of this knowledge to the design of scaffolds for specific tissues, the Mikos laboratory has significantly advanced the technologies available to promote tissue regeneration in areas of critical clinical need.