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Laboratory of Bioengineering PDF Print E-mail

Laboratory of Bioengineering

Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica, Università di Pavia

via Ferrata 1, 27100 Pavia, Italy

 

Until today, the use of stem cells in regenerative medicine or tissue engineering is still a goal to realize, because the regeneration needs a support, a biomaterial “scaffold” to retain stem cells, also allowing their growth and differentiation, and the blood supply. The development and the use of biocompatible materials is essential so that transplantable hybrid tissues, built with scaffolds and stem cells, can be produced.

Biological tissues are composed by cells and extracellular matrix with structural functions. Resident cells produce extracellular matrix and, beside this function, are sensitive to mechanical stresses (Ingber et al., 1977), in other words, they respond to physical stimuli by the mechanotransduction process (Pavalko et al., 2003): the mechanical energy is transformed in biochemical signals (Burger et al., 1999). In vivo, cells respond to different physical stimuli like shear stress, ultrasounds, electromagnetic waves, or gravity, modulating growth rate, cytokines release, and the deposition of extracellular matrix (Saunders et al., 2001; Ajubi et al., 1999; Bakker et al., 2001).

According to the wide literature about physical stimuli and biomaterials, we seed the stem cells onto biocompatible materials and we stimulate them in vitro with particular physical stimulations. To apply different stimuli, we have developed some bioreactors: perfusion, ultrasound, vibrating, or electromagnetic bioreactors. Bioreactors are able to efficiently affect the gene expression (Bancroft et al., 2002; Barakat et al., 2001; Chen et al., 2000). These stimuli, very important in vivo (Jae et al., 2006; Kimihide et al., 2001; James et al., 2000), are normally absent in a common culture protocol.

Cells can react to the physical environment in different ways; for this reason, the biomaterial scaffold should promote cell adhesion, cell proliferation, and the correct cell differentiation (Zdrahala et al., 1999). It is important, consequently, to identify the biomaterials more suitable for the cell types in order to obtain a specific tissue. In our research we have used polymeric, ceramic, metallic biomaterials.