Slice, stack, and roll: A new way to build collagen scaffolds

December 27, 2012

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (December, 26 2012) - Tufts University School of Engineering researchers have developed a novel method for fabricating collagen structures that maintains the collagen's natural strength and fiber structure, making it useful for a number of biomedical applications.

Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is widely used to build scaffolds for tissue engineering because it is biocompatible and biodegradable. Collagen is, however, hard to work with in its natural form because it is largely insoluble in water, and common processing techniques reduce its strength and disrupt its fibrous structure.

The Tufts engineers' new technique, called bioskiving, creates collagen structures from thin sheets of decellularized tendon stacked with alternating fiber directions that maintain much of collagen's natural strength.

Bioskiving does not dilute collagen's natural properties, says Qiaobing Xu, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and inventor of the new technique. "Our method leverages collagen's native attributes to take advantage of the well-organized micro/nanostructures that nature already provides," he says.

Xu and Kyle Alberti, a Ph.D. student in Xu's lab, describe their technology in the paper "Slicing, Stacking and Rolling: Fabrication of Nanostructured Collagen Constructs from Tendon Sections" published online in Advanced Healthcare Materials on December 12, 2012.

Slice, Stack, and Roll

In their research, Xu and Albert cut small sections of collagen from bovine tendons. Using a specialized detergent, the researchers decellularized the sections, leaving intact only the extracellular collagen matrix made of bundles of aligned collagen nanofibers.

Xu and Alberti sliced the sections into ultra-thin sheets using a microtome, and then stacked 10 slices, crisscrossing the sheets so that the fibers in one ran perpendicular to those above and below it. This process produced a scaffold material with tensile strength stronger than constructs made using common processing techniques, Xu notes.

The researchers also created tubular scaffolding by rolling layers of collagen sheets around Teflon-coated glass rods. The sheets were layered so that fibers ran along the length and the circumference of the rods. This process yielded tubes that were found to be stronger than similar tubes made of reconstituted collagen. They also maintained their highly aligned fiber structure.

"Alignment gives the scaffold the ability to guide the direction and orientation of cell growth," says Xu, who also has a faculty appointment at Tufts School of Medicine, "This capability is beneficial for tissue engineering applications where biocompatibility and the ability to guide unidirectional nerve growth are both desired, such as prosthetic or tissue engineering-based blood vessels or nerve conduits."
-end-
The work was supported by funding from a Tufts Faculty Research Award, the Charlton Award from Tufts School of Medicine, and a Tufts Neuroscience Institute Pilot Grant. It utilized facilities at the Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems(CNS), a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), which is supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF award no. ECS-0335765.

Alberti, K. A. and Xu, Q. (2012), Slicing, Stacking and Rolling: Fabrication of Nanostructured Collagen Constructs from Tendon Sections. Advanced Healthcare Materials. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201200319Tufts University School of Engineering, located on Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus, the School of Engineering offers a rigorous engineering education in a unique environment that blends the intellectual and technological resources of a world-class research university with the strengths of a top-ranked liberal arts college. Close partnerships with Tufts' excellent undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, coupled with a long tradition of collaboration, provide a strong platform for interdisciplinary education and scholarship. The School of Engineering's mission is to educate engineers committed to the innovative and ethical application of science and technology in addressing the most pressing societal needs, to develop and nurture twenty-first century leadership qualities in its students, faculty, and alumni, and to create and disseminate transformational new knowledge and technologies that further the well-being and sustainability of society in such cross-cutting areas as human health, environmental sustainability, alternative energy, and the human-technology interface.

Tufts University

Related Tissue Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Plant tissue engineering improves drought and salinity tolerance
After several years of experimentation, scientists have engineered thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, to behave like a succulent, improving water-use efficiency, salinity tolerance and reducing the effects of drought.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Biofabrication drives tissue engineering in 2019
In the quest to engineer replacement tissues and organs for improving human health, biofabrication has emerged as a crucial set of technologies that enable the control of precise architecture and organization.

Keratin scaffolds could advance regenerative medicine and tissue engineering for humans
Researchers at Mossakowski Medical Research Center of the Polish Academy of Science have developed a simple method for preparing 3D keratin scaffold models which can be used to study the regeneration of tissue.

Combined tissue engineering provides new hope for spinal disc herniations
A promising new tissue engineering approach may one day improve outcomes for patients who have undergone discectomy -- the primary surgical remedy for spinal disc herniations.

Tissue engineering: The big picture on growing small intestines
CHLA surgeon Dr. Tracy Grikscheit and colleagues describe how stem cell therapies could help babies with severe intestinal issues.

Scientists use molecular tethers, chemical 'light sabers' for tissue engineering
Researchers at the University of Washington unveiled a new strategy to keep proteins intact and functional in synthetic biomaterials for tissue engineering.

UCI engineers aim to pioneer tissue-engineering approach to TMJ disorders
Here's something to chew on: One in four people are impacted by defects of the temporomandibular - or jaw - joint.

Scientists develop a cellulose biosensor material for advanced tissue engineering
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University teamed up together with Irish colleagues to develop a new imaging approach for tissue engineering.

The use of electrospun scaffolds in musculoskeletal tissue engineering
Rotator Cuff tears affect 15 percent of 60 year olds and carry a significant social and financial burden.

Read More: Tissue Engineering News and Tissue Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.