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“Additive Tissue Manufacturing for Soft Tissue Interfaces with a Focus
on Breast Reconstruction”
Dietmar W. Hutmacher, PhD
Professor, Queensland University of Technology
Breast cancer is a major cause of illness for women. Following tumour resection, breast reconstruction is undertaken for cosmetic and psychological reasons. Reconstruction using silicone-based implants leads to complications such as formation of a rigid fibrous tissue surrounding the implant giving a spherical and unnatural appearance to the breast. Reconstruction using autologous tissue is associated with donor site morbidity, tissue resorption and necrosis. It has been hypothesised that these problems may be overcome with a tissue engineering approach. However, most large volume tissue engineering scaffolds develop a necrotic core due to inefficient nutrient diffusion. This project proposes a novel method having a combination of perfusable channels within a patient-specific scaffold that will allow continuous provision of nutrients and oxygen to the cells at the core of the scaffold and significantly lowers the possibility of cell death due to hypoxia. In addition, the lack of functional integration between tissue-engineered constructs (TEC’s) and surrounding host tissues is a critical barrier, limiting the effectiveness and clinical translation of current soft tissue interface graft technologies. The overarching goal of this Hans Fischer Senior Fellowship research programme is to address this challenge through the development of highly adaptable platform technologies that enable the engineering of stronger interfaces between TEC’s and the extracellular matrices that are distinct to particular clinical conditions. Through this project, an international network spanning scientists, engineers, clinicians, industry and government will be established to accelerate the pace of regenerative medicine research targeting reconstruction of complex soft tissue interface defects and abnormalities. Key outcomes of the Hans Fischer Senior fellowship program will deliver innovative new strategies for Additive Tissue Manufacturing for Soft Tissue Interfaces whilst contributing to the education at the TU Munich of a new generation of bioengineers, clinician scientists and tissue engineers with a strong
Professor Hutmacher’s background is a strong combination of academic and industrial. His expertise is in biomaterials, biomechanics, medical devices and tissue engineering. He is one of the few academics to take a holistic bone engineering concept to clinical application. More than 400 patients have been treated with the FDA-approved bone engineering scaffolds developed by Prof Hutmacher’s Singapore-based interdisciplinary research group. Over the last four years, Professor Hutmacher has developed an international track record in adult stem cell research related to regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine/tissue engineering is a rapidly growing multidisciplinary field involving the life, physical and engineering sciences and seeks to develop functional cell, tissue and organ substitutes to repair, replace or enhance biological function that has been lost due to congenital abnormalities, injury, disease or aging. It includes both the regeneration of tissues in vitro for subsequent implantation in vivo as well as regeneration directly in vivo. In addition to having a therapeutic application, tissue engineering can have a diagnostic application where the engineered tissue is used as a biosensor. Engineered tissues can also be used for the development of drugs including screening for novel drug candidates, identifying novel genes as drug targets, and testing for drug metabolism, uptake, and toxicity.