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Project Description: Printable Bioscaffolds for Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dave Estrada

Using synthetic biomaterials to direct stem cell fate will transform tissue engineering as a viable route towards healing severe muscle trauma and loss. Skeletal muscle is an ideal candidate for tissue engineering due to its inherent regenerative capacity. However, new approaches to shape synthetic extracellular matrices and cell signaling cascades are needed to enable the growth of vascularized and innervated muscle ex vivo. Accordingly, we will develop 3D printing of myoblast-laden MXene scaffolds to treat volumetric muscle loss injuries. MXenes are a novel class of two-dimensional (2D) materials, which are synthesized by etching the A element in Mn+1AXn phase precursor materials. Here M denotes an early transition metal species, A is an A-group (mostly IIIA and IVA) element, and X is carbon and/or nitrogen. MXenes are generally expressed by the formula Mn+1XnTx, where Tx represents surface functional groups containing −O, −F, or –OH, resulting from the A-element etching process. The use of different transition metals gives these layered structures chemical diversity. More than 70 various types of MXenes have been theoretically predicted to be stable; however, only 30 have been synthesized. Ti3C2 was the first MXene to be discovered and serves as a model system for scientific investigation of physical properties and applications of MXenes in printed bioscaffolds.

Role of Participant(s):

In this project, participants will synthesize MXene bioscaffolds via bioprinting techniques to enable the design of electrically conductive bioscaffolds with varying stiffness and surface features. To mimic the mechano-electric environment of the human body, temperature, strain, and electric fields in the extracellular environment will be controlled through signals applied to these engineered MXene bioscaffolds during cell culture. The mechanical properties of cells will be characterized in collaboration with the Surface Science Laboratory, while the viscoelastic mechanical properties of grown musculoskeletal tissue will be characterized in collaboration with the Northwest Tissue Mechanics Laboratory. Students will gain hands-on experience in tissue engineering from MXene ink synthesis to bioprinting and tissue characterization.

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