Regenerative Medicine Utrecht

Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneraton

Maxillofacial bone regeneration

We combine stem cell technologies with state-of-the-art regenerative technologies to recapitulate natural tissue development and regeneration

Debby Gawlitta leads a young research group working on bone regeneration of the facial structures. Patients with maxillofacial bone defects need bone tissue substitutes to reshape their face, to anchor their teeth for talking and chewing food. These bone defects may arise from an accident, cancer resection, infection or due to congenital malformations. Our team focusses on creating bone tissues in the lab from stem cells that can be harvested from adults.

We employ two routes to bone regeneration, inspired by the natural mechanisms.

1) For regeneration of small clinical bone defects, such as cleft palates, taking the endochondral route would be most appropriate. In our recent work, great potential was demonstrated for MSCs to create impressive amounts of endochondral bone in vivo. Taking this regenerative strategy to the next level in a large animal model, will bring clinical translation within reach.

2) Furthermore, the creation of large constructs requires the introduction of vascularization in engineered bone tissue. These prevascularized bone constructs could be applied in larger defects with limited vascular supply, including e.g. mandibular defects after oncological resections or in non-unions. We have established methods to create capillary-like networks in biomaterial-based cultures of combinations of several types of stem cells in vitro. Our current work focuses on bioreactor perfusion of constructs, translation to clinically applicable materials and 3D bioprinting.’

Further, in collaboration with Kuros Biosciences BV, we investigate bone regeneration from smart bioceramics in cell-free approaches in the preclinical and clinical setting. Finally, we are starting up a project focusing on regeneration of the only facial joint structure: the temporomandibular joint.

Click here for Debby’s profile.