Re-establishing and preservation maintenance of normal function of diseased, injured or damaged tissues and organs with biological alternatives is the main focus of tissue engineering, a major element of regenerative medicine that complies with standards established in the areas of engineering, materials science and cell transplantation. Engineered tissue constructs that are made up of biomaterial scaffolds pre-seeded with tissue-specific cells offer enormous potential in terms of approaches to enable the generation of mechanically and/or biologically functional tissue substitutes. However, clinical applications of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine technologies have been constrained due to their limitation in clinically approved biomaterials. The majority of biomaterials that have been developed have faced obstacles in translation to clinical end-point because tissue development is predominantly controlled and influenced by the interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. The application of conventional polymers as an artificial ECM, that have been largely used to provide architectural support for new tissue development, poorly replicate the complex interactions between cells and ECM that are needed to promote tissue formation and maturation. Therefore, strategies for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine will advance as bioinspired or biomimetic materials that can provide the proper microenvironment for tissue regeneration are designed and developed.
Certainly, nature provides many systems that demonstrate excellent properties and performance that could be mimicked across many biomedical applications. Thus engineers and scientists have studied the marvels of nature, learned their design-for-life principles, and incorporated several characteristics to mimic biological systems. For example, the everyday used fabric hook-and-loop fastener was inspired by the seeds of the burdock plant. Also, adhesive-based biomaterials have been manufactured by using microfabrication techniques inspired by the ‘sticky’ feet of the gecko, which have an unbelievable climbing ability. So too, have learnings from the phenomena of sharkskin been applied to the development of super-hydrophobic biomaterials and medical devices to reduce contamination and inhibit protein adsorption. Multifunctional biomaterials that replicate the chemical composition, physical structure and biologically functional molecules of natural living systems could make a difference to the development of new biomimetic materials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Accordingly, advancements in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies have led a change in our understanding of biomaterials research, whereby the concepts of biomimetics and bioinspiration play a significant role in multiscale development of material-based structures and their time-dependent biological interactions with the host.
At Biodesign Europe, we are striving to make much-needed scientific innovations available to advance society. Inspired by nature’s design, particularly at the intersection of engineering, biology and computing, our scientific discoveries are making the transition from laboratory inventions to usable technologies from which people and society can benefit. Specifically, researchers at Biodesign Europe are working to deliver not only novel ideas, but new solutions that respond to urgent needs, so they can improve human health, community safety and global sustainability.
Please share your views and opinions on where nature is inspiring the development of innovative solutions in your research.