Student: Noah Laird, Graduate Student in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics, University of Iowa
Faculty Advisor: Aliasger Salem
Gene-Activated Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds 3D Printed from Calcium Phosphate Cements
My research is focused on developing implantable, gene-activated bone regenerative scaffolds that can be printed on-demand to fit patients’ unique, large defects in just days. The current gold standard for bone grafts is a graft from the patient themselves, however, as the injury site becomes larger the feasibility of this type of graft precipitously declines. 3D printed tissue engineering scaffolds have the potential to enable the regeneration of bone by a process analogous to a typical bone healing process. This may circumvent risks of rejection of grafts not from the patient and enable the production of highly specialized, patient-specific constructs. To create my scaffolds I have been incorporating polyplexes formed from plasmid DNA and polyethyleneimine into calcium phosphate cement (CPC), 3D-printing this mixture into mesh-like scaffolds with defined morphology, strand diameter, and pore size, then mineralizing them in aqueous solutions. The result is a hydroxyapatite ceramic scaffold that has is mechanically strong and has a bioactive nano texture on its surface.