Tissue engineering is an exciting field of interdisciplinary research that holds great potential for revolutionizing the treatment of traumati injury and disease. Synthetic materials hold the promise of biocompatibility, reduced foreign body response, and elimination of compliance mismatch. Despite these promises, major limitations still exist in the materials used today, especially in cartilage repair. Materials developed for use as cartilage replacements have found success in cosmetic applications;however development of a material that meets the extreme mechanical demands on cartilage in the joint remains a challenge. Thus, I aim to engineer a new type of synthetic cartilage that mimics the chemical structure of cartilage to reproduce the extraordinary material properties. This material will use motifs that mimic the chemical structure of the type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans in native cartilage. Using these motifs, a two or three-component system will be designed to gel in vivo and adhere to the native, damaged cartilage. The morphology of the material will be driven by self-assembly and nanophase separation.
The specific aims of this proposal are to (1) Develop an injectable block copolymer system that mimics the chemical structure of cartilage. (2) Examine biocompatibility and the ability of this system to gel and adhere to damaged cartilage in vitro. (3) Optimize and employ the synthetic cartilage gel to repair damaged cartilage in vivo.
I aim to relieve the need for joint replacement by developing a synthetic, injectable material for cartilage replacement and regeneration. A two or three-component system that makes use motifs that mimic the chemical structure of the type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans in native cartilage will be designed to gel in vivo and the morphology of the material will be driven by self- assembly and nanophase separation. Mechanical properties of the material will also be controlled by chemical design.