This three-year US-Switzerland cooperative research project between David L. Kaplan of Tufts University and Lorenz Meinel of the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, addresses studies of novel protein biomaterial matrices. The objective is to correlate the protein scaffold design structure in 3D silk biomaterials with drug delivery kinetics to control tissue specific outcomes.
The study will further understanding of a new family of protein based 3D silk biomaterials that have unique mechanical and biological properties. The investigators will functionalize silk biomaterials with drug delivery systems in in vitro adult human stem cells aimed at differentiation for bone and cartilage lineages. They will address drug delivery kinetics and associated mechanical properties of the matrices in order to accommodate the specific requirements of both the bone and cartilage tissues. This will be accomplished through optimization of the 3D silk scaffolds, control of their porosity and the mode of drug delivery.
The proposed research has potential for creating novel biomaterials for application to bone and cartilage tissue engineering and formation of bone and cartilage interfaces. Education is a key component. U.S. students will have an opportunity to interact in a multidisciplinary program that involves materials science and engineering, biology and chemistry. They will develop the skills needed to succeed in an international research environment. In addition the insights from the research will be included in courses and specialized lectures offered at Tufts University and ETH.