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Tissue engineering of skin and oral mucosa

Dr. Sandra Straßburg

PD Dr. Filip Simunovic

To date, clinical applicability of current wound dressings is limited, particularly regarding large soft tissue defects, and there is evidence that impact of a vascular component is beneficial in the re-epithelization context. This combinatorial project, located at the material science-life science-interface, initially aims at creating a novel biohybrid gradient layered nonwoven (BGSV) as cell matrix for treatment of soft tissue defects. In the developmental part of this project, the biomechanical BGSV properties will be individually optimized during the manufacturing process, concerning their E-moduli, such that they successfully facilitate establishment of a vascular component, optionally comprising (i) umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs) or (ii) endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs). Ideally, iterative biomechanics optimization will yield endothelial differentiation of EPCs or formation of capillary endothelial structures inside the BGSV, which with matched avascular controls will be preclinically evaluated under in vitro conditions. This validation is conducted qualitatively, by comparative experimental analysis of putative improvement and/or acceleration of oral mucosa or skin epithelial morphogenesis. In analogy to the previously described modus operandi for the preclinical validation, in vivo validation of re-epithelization is carried out in a nude mouse wound healing model, to address the translational level that means a prospective clinical utilization of vascularized BGSVs. This project is funded by the German Research Community (DFG) and carried out in cooperation with the Department of Oral Biotechnology (University Medical Center, Freiburg).