With current medical technology, injury to tissue that goes beyond the bodyís normal capacity to repair itself can only be treated by transplantation or the use of a synthetic tissue replacement. These options are limited in availability and involve high risks of rejection and infection. Current research seeks to regenerate lost or damaged tissue by using porous scaffolds seeded with a patientís own cells. Because the properties of these scaffolds are highly application-specific, tunable biomaterials are of interest to researchers as these materials can be easily altered to elicit more favorable cellular responses. This work combines two previously studied materials: poly(glycerol sebacate) (PGS), an elastomer with tunable mechanical properties, and bioactive glass (BG), a ceramic shown to promote osteoblast proliferation and differentiation. Combining these two materials creates a scaffold with the mechanical properties necessary to support surrounding tissue and the biological properties required to promote the growth and integration of new bone tissue. In this experiment, MC3T3 osteoprogenitor cells were cultured on PGS/BG samples of varying BG concentration. The extent of differentiation on the scaffolds was measured after 4, 12, and 16 weeks in culture. Bone differentiation protein expression and alkaline phosphatase (AP) activity were analyzed through immunocytochemistry and Cell Bio Labís AP Assay, respectively. Proliferation was measured using a CyQuant NF Proliferation Assay. By characterizing the effects of this material on cell differentiation and proliferation, we can better understand the interactions between cells and substrates, and ultimately aid in the design of biofunctional scaffolds for bone tissue regeneration.
Alex Brown, from Peabody, Massachusetts, is a junior pursuing a B.S. in Bioengineering with a focus in Cell and Tissue Engineering at Lehigh University. For the past two years, he has been working in the lab of Professor Sabrina Jedlicka, studying the growth and differentiation of MC3T3 cells on bioactive glass-modified poly(glycerolsebacate) substrates. Alex is a Rossin Junior Fellow and a member of the Eckardt Scholars program. After graduating, he plans to pursue a PhD in Bioengineering or a related field, and perform research in the area of tissue engineering.