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 pre-vascularized 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, we investigate bone regeneration from smart bioceramics in cell-free approaches in the preclinical and clinical setting.
Mandibular condyle regeneration
In this research line, we aim to develop a biofunctionalized scaffold that is mimicking the native temporomandibular joint. For this, we employ the use of stem cells derived from the dental pulp and combine this with tissue engineering techniques such as 3D printing and the use of hydrogels as scaffold.