The Extracellular Matrix

Project description: This project was funded by Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy and Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience and supervised by Dr. Nicola Green at The University of Sheffield. This project resulted in the production of an unpublished scientific article exploring the extracellular matrix.

Project overview: An introduction of the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM) industry and interdisciplinary nature this industry is composed of. How its growing demands of living tissues, the need for scaffolds and stimulants drives TERM. The introduction also explored the current ways the industry is being challenged and possible applications for such innovations.

The paper then moves onto scaffold design principles and what considerations a scientist must explore to best serve the desired outcome. Common design parameters include: biocompatibility, biodegradability, degradation rate, mechanical properties, topography, pore size and interconnectivity. Throughout this section each design parameter is explored on how the manipulation can occur and possible consequences of overlooking the design parameter.

Next, the extracellular matrix (ECM) is introduced by explaining what it is made of, where it can be found, the purpose of the ECM, the composition of it, how cells interact with and within the ECM and the chemical and physical environment. This section sets a foundation in tandem with the scaffold design to understand how the ECM naturally occurs so we can set a standard of what we are trying to achieve in a biosynthetic scaffold. Readers can now extrapolate after considering design parameters and match these to components within the ECM.

Common scaffold materials are now discussed considering their common uses, positives and negatives with using each. The materials compared are the categories: metals & ceramics, polymers, natural derivatives and hydrogels.

Lastly, this review explores two different categories of stimulation including chemical and mechanical. These simulations were targeting an increase in any one of the components found in the ECM.

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