The increase in life expectancy has led to a concomitant increase in the incidence of lost or damaged tissues associated with ageing or other malignancies, subsequently providing a boost to the field of tissue engineering. Currently, when bone is damaged or lost and the natural regenerative process is impaired or absent, few alternatives are available to restore bone continuity. These alternatives rely on the use of autologous bone, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), synthetic materials or a combination. However, these alternatives are far from ideal and as such the search for new alternatives has intensified in recent years. Throughout this thesis I analyzed various alternatives that could eventually lead to new therapies. Extracellular matrix (ECM) holds an enormous potential not only as a physical support capable to restore mechanical integrity but also as a biological entity providing molecular cues to drive the differentiation of uncommitted cells into the desired lineage. Moreover, new scaffolds bearing instructive properties are presented and showed to be as good as autologous bone in the regeneration of bone defects. In brief, by controlling the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells and combining the committed cells with a suitable carrier we showed that bone defects can be regenerated opening new possibilities for the current therapies.
|Award date||26 Nov 2009|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Nov 2009|