Graphene-based bioinks for 3D printing of Articular Cartilage implants with enhanced bioactivity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Engineering and Physical Sciences


Articular cartilage (AC) defects are one of the major causes of immobility and poor quality of life for millions of individuals worldwide. Current medical therapies have proven to be insufficient for the long-term regeneration of AC defects. Alternatively, the integration of Bioprinting in Tissue Engineering opens the possibility of generating complex 3D AC implants via the precise spatial deposition of multiple cells and biomaterials. Despite providing an adequate mechanical support for adhering cells, these constructs have largely failed in mimicking the native Extracellular Matrix (ECM) microenvironment. The ECM, dominated by collagen proteins, is a complex 3D microenvironment with specific biophysical and chemical properties responsible for coordinating intracellular signalling and triggering downstream biological responses which regulate cell function. Whilst significant advances have been made in the development of scaffolds capable of mimicking the zonal micro/macro-organization of AC tissues, very little attention has been dedicated to the spatially controlled functionalization of such constructs. Therefore, we aim to explore some of the excellent properties of graphene (e.g. surface area/volume ratio) and develop novel bioinks for 3D printing of AC implants with spatial control/delivery of bioactive molecules (e.g. BMPs) capable of guiding stem cell differentiation towards chondrogenic lineages. Combining the functionalization of graphene sheets (with different chondrogenic-inductive molecules) with the multi-material cell printing technology including of cell compatible hydrogels we aim to generate stratified AC implants where stem cells can be exposed to different biochemical stimulus capable of instructing their function and neo-ECM deposition.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022201/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2487931 Studentship EP/S022201/1 02/09/2019 30/09/2023 Leona Obiagele Ogene