Nettie E. Brown
BME PhD Defense Presentation

Date: 2024-06-13
Time: 10:00 AM
Location / Meeting Link: In person location: Suddath Seminar Room; Zoom link:

Committee Members:
Co-Advisors: Scott Hollister, PhD; Johnna Temenoff, PhD Members: Rudy Gleason, PhD; Steven Goudy, MD; Vahid Serpooshan, PhD; David Zopf, MD

Title: Heparin-based hydrogel/3D printed scaffold composites for cartilage regeneration

Cartilage is a specialized connective tissue known for maintaining the structural integrity and functionality of various body parts, including joints, the nose, and the ears. Unlike most other tissues in the body, cartilage exhibits limited self-repair capabilities due to its avascular nature and low cell turnover rate. Traditional approaches, including autologous cartilage grafts and prosthetic devices, are associated with inherent limitations such as donor site morbidity, donor tissue availability, and suboptimal aesthetic outcomes. Moreover, the complex three-dimensional (3D) architecture of the ear, comprising intricate contours and curves, further complicates the restoration process. As such, there is a compelling clinical need for innovative auricular reconstruction strategies capable of addressing these challenges while achieving durable and aesthetically pleasing outcomes. This thesis work aimed to streamline cartilage tissue engineering by developing a novel approach for in situ assembly of bioactive composite structures in the operating room (OR), circumventing regulatory challenges associated with extensive in vitro chondrocyte culturing. Composite scaffolds capable of both biological stimulation and structural support essential for cartilage regeneration were developed in this thesis. In Aim 1, novel 3D printed-hydrogel composite scaffolds were developed and characterized. In Aim 2, the impact of cartilage digestion level on extracellular matrix production was assessed by encapsulating isolated chondrocytes, partially digested cartilage, and minced cartilage pieces in PEGDA-DTT hydrogels. Finally, in Aim 3, chondrocyte maintenance and cartilaginous matrix production were explored by encapsulating chondrocytes within various levels of heparin-sulfated hydrogels.