Cartilage Tissue Engineering and Electrospinning

Cartilage-related diseases are a promising field to explore in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The cartilage hydrated structure is aneural, avascular, and non-lymphatic, which complicates natural regeneration [1,2]. The increase in life expectancy and obesity is directly correlated to osteoarthritis –the disease caused by the degradation of cartilage. The painful consequences also increase comorbidities and burden patients and healthcare providers with exorbitant costs [3,4].

Currently, surgical and non-surgical therapies are employed to address osteoarthritis. They are not permanent solutions [5–7]. Therefore, several groups are developing hydrogels [8,9], electrospun mats [10], and other biomaterials to mimic the natural properties of cartilage. These implants can increase patients’ quality of life, reducing pain, comorbidities, and other undesirable effects after their clinical trials and regulatory agency approval.

 

Chondrocyte proliferation on neutralized chitosan fiber mats. Image adapted from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fhfh.2021.100018 under Creative Commons License

Yilmaz and Zeugolis discuss the promises, challenges, and future perspectives of electrospinning applied to cartilage tissue engineering [11]. They emphasize that although electrospinning literature is abundant in the Pubmed database, few studies explore electrospining’s potential applied to cartilage tissue engineering. The authors demonstrate with pre-clinical results that stem cell-seeded electrospun scaffolds combined with other techniques (3D printing and freeze-drying) can recover lubricating properties, mechanical resistance and restore cartilage tissue properties [11]. Although the reviewed studies consider small animals (rats, mice, and rabbits), they are promising to people suffering from the pain and harmful effects of osteoarthritis worldwide [11].

 

This article was written by André Plath as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

André is researching Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.

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[1]        L.M. Billesberger, K.M. Fisher, Y.J. Qadri, R.L. Boortz-Marx, Procedural Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Review of Current Injectable Therapies, Pain Res. Manag. 2020 (2020) 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3873098.

[2]        E.D. Bonnevie, V.J. Baro, L. Wang, D.L. Burris, Fluid load support during localized indentation of cartilage with a spherical probe, J. Biomech. 45 (2012) 1036–1041. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.12.019.

[3]        S. Glyn-Jones, A.J.R. Palmer, R. Agricola, A.J. Price, T.L. Vincent, H. Weinans, A.J. Carr, Osteoarthritis, in: Lancet, Lancet Publishing Group, 2015: pp. 376–387. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60802-3.

[4]        D.J. Hunter, L. March, M. Chew, Osteoarthritis in 2020 and beyond: a Lancet Commission, Lancet. 396 (2020) 1711–1712. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32230-3.

[5]        Y. Lee, J. Choi, N.S. Hwang, Regulation of lubricin for functional cartilage tissue regeneration: a review, Biomater. Res. 22 (2018) 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40824-018-0118-x.

[6]        G. Musumeci, C. Loreto, M.L. Carnazza, F. Coppolino, V. Cardile, R. Leonardi, Lubricin is expressed in chondrocytes derived from osteoarthritic cartilage encapsulated in poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate scaffold, Eur. J. Histochem. 55 (2011) 31. https://doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2011.e31.

[7]        W. Kabir, C. Di Bella, I. Jo, D. Gould, P.F.M. Choong, Human Stem Cell Based Tissue Engineering for In Vivo Cartilage Repair: A Systematic Review, Tissue Eng. Part B Rev. 27 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1089/ten.teb.2020.0155.

[8]        Y. Gombert, R. Simič, F. Roncoroni, M. Dübner, T. Geue, N.D. Spencer, Structuring Hydrogel Surfaces for Tribology, Adv. Mater. Interfaces. 6 (2019) 1901320. https://doi.org/10.1002/admi.201901320.

[9]        M. Jurak, A.E. Wiącek, A. Ładniak, K. Przykaza, K. Szafran, What affects the biocompatibility of polymers?, Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 294 (2021) 102451. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cis.2021.102451.

[10]      J.K. Wise, A.L. Yarin, C.M. Megaridis, M. Cho, Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Oriented Nanofibrous Scaffolds: Engineering the Superficial Zone of Articular Cartilage, Tissue Eng. Part A. 15 (2009) 913–921. https://doi.org/10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0109.

[11]      E.N. Yilmaz, D.I. Zeugolis, Electrospun Polymers in Cartilage Engineering—State of Play, Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 8 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2020.00077.

Validation and Verification

Collectively, verification and validation are a cornerstone of many areas of research, none more so that in engineering and the physical sciences. Yet many early stage researchers have yet to appreciate their definitions or fully understand the signficance of these activities.  William Morales’, blog provides a brief introduction to Device Design Verification and Validation – useful for those just beginning in their careers in the MedTech arena or indeed anyone who needs a quick refresher.  However, there is still of lot of discussion about the use of the terms particulary between fields as there maybe nuances or historical context that means the defintions deviate – for instance the article at ResearchGate by Ryan and Wheatcroft (2017).  Simple defintions may employ something along the lines of:

  • verification - am I building something right
  • validation - am I building the right something

Software engineering, an increasingly important aspect of medical devices, especially through the rise of in situ/in vivo monitoring, has it owns definitions. Sargent defines the processes by which a researcher can V&V computational simulations whilst Viceconti et al (2021) discuss V&V for in silico trials.

Interesting paper that investigates corrosion and tribocorrosion behavior of binary and ternary carbide coatings for load-bearing implants

An exciting paper discussing the feasibility of binary and ternary carbide coatings for load-bearing implants with improved biocompatibility was published by Pana and co-workers in 2020. The peer-reviewed article was published in the Coatings journal and it is titled “In vitro corrosion and tribocorrosion performance of biocompatible carbide coatings”.

This work assessed elemental and phase composition, tribo-mechanical properties, corrosion and tribocorrosion of coatings deposited by cathodic arc evaporation on polished 316L SS discs (Ra = 50 ± 2 nm). TiNbC coating outperformed the other synthesized coatings in terms of initial surface roughness and corrosion resistance (shown by the lowest change in Ra before and after corrosion tests). Even though ZrC and TiNbC displayed similar polished wear tracks, the latter exhibited the lowest friction coefficient and wear rate on the tribocorrosion tests.

These results delivery an important advancement towards the development of coatings more biocompatible, presenting higher corrosion resistance along with improved tribocorrosion performance. The graphical abstract shown below showcases some of the results of this worth reading paper.

 

CC License – 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Pana, I.; Vladescu, A.; Constantin, L.R.; Sandu, I.G.; Dinu, M.; Cotrut, C.M. In Vitro Corrosion and Tribocorrosion Performance of Biocompatible Carbide Coatings. Coatings 2020, 10, 654. https://doi.org/10.3390/coatings10070654

 

This post was written by Pedro Luiz Lima dos Santos as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.

Pedro is researching the Functional Biotribology of the Surface Engineering of 3D Printed Components at the University of Leeds, UK.

A warm welcome to André Plath, our second ESR to start in BioTrib

BioTrib welcomes André Plath who has started as an Early Stage Researcher at the ETH Zurich within Prof Stephen Ferguson’s Group.  Like Pedro, André is from Brazil.  André will surely be pleased with the performance of his home country in the Olympics where the Brazilian Footbal Team won an exciting game over another soccer ‘Super-Power’ Spain, 2-1.  Whilst at ETH Zurich, André will research Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds as he brings new technologies to the fore for improving joint replacement and/or augmentation.

BioTrib’s first ESR – Pedro Lima Dos Santos

A big welcome to Pedro from Campina Grande in Brasil.

Some of you will have met Pedro already through the on-line courses etc we have held previously. Just to let you know that Pedro has now been in the UK for 2 weeks of which 10 days were spent quarantining. Previously he had been working as a researcher in Lisbon, Portugal.  Like England in the UEFA final, Brasil lost 1-0 in the Copas America final vs Argentina over the weekend and on home territory so he is probably in need of some sympathy!

Pedro will be researching surface modifications in additive manufacturing processes to enhance artificial joint performance.

What does a Lecturer/Professor actually do?

It is pretty much a standard joke about what academics do with their time including the perception we have lengthy holidays when the UG students are on vacation.  This view is held in not only amongst the public at large but by our own students, their parents and, rather alarmingly, by policy makers and even former Ministers of Education (I thought there would have been solidarity amongst professions that have a long summer ‘recess’).

Dr Susan Wardell from Social Anthropology at the University of Otaga, NZ, has produced an infographic of the life of an academic and the various tasks we have perform to fulfil our obligations to our stakeholders (see below). There is further info on Dr Wardell’s twitter feed. What is left off the infographic is the number of hours a typical academic works – which in the UK is in excess of that defined by the working time directive – 48 hours (when the UK was a member of the EU it was the only country to have an exemption from this legislation). Prof. Katherine Sang et al (2015) provides a critique of this phenomena. This is not an isolated discussion (just type ‘How many hours a week do academics work’ into a search engine) especially around the reducing focus on research.

An academic’s role within the University environment. Creative Commons License – Copyright, Susan Wardall – Source Twitter: Unlazy Susan.

10 ingredients for a successful supervisor/PhD student relationship – A thoughtful commentary from Elsevier Connect

The PhD candidate-Supervisor Relationship is probably the cornerstone of academic research, at least in Western Europe. The relationship, which can last anything from 3 to 5 or more years depending on the type and location of the PhD degree, provides a key transition for the student from being a learned individual to one who enhances these attributes and becomes more or less independent in their pursuit of excellence.

Some of the more successful relationships last a lifetime particularly for those candidates that continue a career in academia or a similar domain. Prof Torralba declares 10 key constituents for developing this relationship successfully. How do these attributes/features resonate with your experiences as a supervisor or student?


Leeds: The Summer Careers Festival 2021!

This Summer, we’re excited to share with you a series of virtual events to help you discover opportunities in Yorkshire, the UK and globally. Join us from the 7 – 10 June for the Summer Careers Festival, where you can book 1-to-1 meetings and group sessions with a huge range of employers who are looking to hire now!

We have over 160+ employers with live vacancies waiting to talk to you! If you’re looking for a summer internship, placement or a graduate level job – then the Summer Careers Festival is for you.

See what events we will run during the Summer Careers Festival below and click directly on each event to book your exclusive place.

Summer Careers Festival fairs and events:

To attend the Careers Day fairs you will have to download the CareerFair+ app and get your profile ready! Read the top tips here to stand out from the crowd and make sure to attend the pre-events webinars.

Here are some tips on how to join us and make the most of the Careers Days:

  1. Download the CF+ app (Google Play & App Store)
  2. Create an account – watch this video to see how!
  3. Allow notifications & add the fair to your calendar
  4. Listen to How to prepare for the Summer Careers Festival | Top tips from Marc and Kiera – webinar recording
  5. Browse attending employers (https://cfplus.page.link/ZMm1)
  6. Research the companies and use filters to decide which employers you want to talk to
  7. Book 1-2-1 appointments and group sessions. Employers are adding their availability on daily basis – if you cannot book an appointment for a particular employer – make sure to log in to CF+ at a later date to check their availability again.

 

EU offers Global opportunities to Postdoctoral researchers

The EU’s Horizon Europe has begun and Sweden, Switzerland and UK, as an associate partner that has the same rights as full partners, will be actively engaged in research. As such we will be submitting grants in areas of medical engineering and biomechanics using both bottom-up instruments and top-down specified calls.

One of these instruments that allows collaboration development are through the Postdoctoral fellowships – which allow an overseas post PhD researcher to undertake research and research training in Europe (max 8 years research experience since their PhD).  The proposed call opens on 18 May 2021 with a proposed call deadline 15 September 2021 (tbc). These fellowships provide a substantial salary as well as a research support allocation managed by the host institution.

The consortium members, University of Leeds, Uppsala University, Lulea Technical University, ETH Zurich and Imperial College London,  have considerable experience of hosting and developing the types of fellowships providing an open and innovative environment for the Fellows to develop. The consortium have considerable EU experience through both large scale programmes (lifeLongJoints.eu), mentoring EU fellows and a number of MSCA ITNs (now called doctoral networks) and would welcome discussions developing EU postdoctoral fellowship proposals. If you have any students who may be considering a postdoctoral research position and might be interested in med-tech/biomechanics then perhaps we can chat about this.  These fellowships are useful for answering research questions that both the beneficiary and the researcher are interested in.