Biomaterials and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory

The Research Program of the Biomaterials and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory (Director, Helen H. Lu Ph.D.) centers on understanding how the biological interface between different types of connective tissues are formed and maintained in the body, and more importantly, how to re-establish these distinct tissue-to-tissue boundaries post injury.We have focused on the interface between soft tissue (e.g. tendon, ligament, cartilage) and bone due to its functional significance in musculoskeletal motion. Our approach is to regenerate the native tissue-to-tissue interface on biological and synthetic grafts, with the extended goal of engineering complex tissue or organ systems pre-designed to integrate with the host environment.The working hypothesis is that heterotypic cellular communications play a significant role in the regeneration and homeostasis of distinct skeletal tissue boundaries.Specifically, our interface tissue engineering research program consists of three targeted areas:

  1. Characterize the structure-function relationship at the soft tissue-to-bone interface
  2. Elucidate the mechanism for interface regeneration and homeostasis, focusing on the role of heterotypic cellular interactions
  3. Design biomimetic, stratified scaffold systems able to control cellular interactions and promote the formation of complex tissues

Understanding tissue-to-tissue integration is also essential for connecting together different tissue engineered orthopaedic grafts, as biological fixation will be critical in facilitating the translation of these tissue engineered technologies to the clinic.

Compositional Map of the Interface (FC) between Ligament (L) and Bone (B)

Microscale Co-culture Model of Ligament Fibroblasts (orange) and Osteoblasts (green)

Multi-phasic scaffold design for multi-tissue regeneration

 

Co-Culture of Osteoblasts and Chondrocytes on a microsphere-based, biodegradable polymer scaffold (Scanning Electron Micrograph)

 


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