Biofabrication Technologies to Instruct Regeneration
A key factor in current approaches for tissue and organ regeneration relies on enhancing (stem) cell-material interactions to obtain the same original functionality. Different approaches include delivery of biological factors, functionalization of biological factors onto 3D scaffolds surface, engineering surface properties (e.g. via topography modifications), and controlling bulk and structural chemical and mechanical properties of the cell-laden biomaterial porous constructs that are developed for regeneration. Although these strategies have proved to augment cell activity on biomaterials, they are still characterized by limited control in space and time, which hampers the proper regeneration of complex tissues. Here, we present a few examples where integration of biofabrication platforms allowed the generation of a new library of biological constructs with tailored biological, physicochemical, and mechanical cues at the macro, micro, and nano scale. These biological constructs are characterized by tailored cell-material interactions able to influence the activity of stem cells, thereby sustaining the regeneration of complex tissues. From these examples as well as from the study of other scientists, converging technologies seems to be a powerful route towards designing of biological constructs with instructive properties able to control cell activity for the regeneration of functional tissues. Future efforts should aim at further improving technology integration to achieve a fine control on stem cell fate by biomaterial and scaffolds design at multiple scales. This will enable the regeneration of complex tissues including vasculature and innervation, which will result in enhanced in vivo integration with surrounding tissues. By doing so, the gap from tissue to organ regeneration will be reduced, bringing regenerative medicine technologies closer to the clinics.
About Professor Lorenzo Moroni
Prof. Dr. Lorenzo Moroni received his Ph.D. cum laude in 2006 at University of Twente on 3D scaffolds for osteochondral regeneration, for which he was awarded the European doctorate award in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering from the European Society of Biomaterials (ESB).
Since 2014 he works at Maastricht University, where he is a founding member of the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine. In 2016, he became full professor in biofabrication for regenerative medicine. Since 2019, he is chair of the Complex Tissue Regeneration department. He was vice-director of MERLN from 2019 till 2022. Since 2022, he is director of MERLN.
In 2014, he received the Jean Leray award from the ESB and an ERC starting grant. In 2016, he also received the Robert Brown Award from TERMIS. In 2017, he was elected as faculty of the Young Academy of Europe and in the top 100 Italian scientists within 40 worldwide by the European Institute of Italian Culture. His research group interests aim at developing biofabrication technologies to generate libraries of 3D scaffolds able to control cell fate, with applications spanning from skeletal to vascular, neural, and organ regeneration. From his research efforts, 3 products have already reached the market.