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Novel polypeptide bioinks for 3D printing of bioactive scaffolds for tissue engineering applications.

  • Full or part time
    Prof A Heise
    Dr F O'Brien
    Prof S Cryan
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, December 02, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The development of defined three-dimensional (3D) architecture fabrication for tissue engineering has been a recent emergence within the field. In particular, 3D printing represents a promising rapid prototyping technology for the production of intricate bio-inspired scaffolds/constructs. Highly defined complex structures can be readily developed with computer-aided design (CAD) and deposited with stereolithography, extrusion, or ink-jet based printing. The primary feedstock materials used are natural hydrogels, which encompass the capability to augment native tissue due to their comparative 3D nano-architecture while holding the potential to act as a mimetic of the extracellular environment. Their disadvantage is varying source reproducibility and the limited possibility to modify the materials for example to improve cell compatibility. Hydrogels from synthetic polymers overcome these drawbacks and have been successfully applied in 3D printing but those often lack the biodegradability and biocompatibility.

Our research is fused on bringing together the best of both worlds by using natural amino acids as building block and apply polymerization technology to convert them into suitable biomaterials. This approach is very successful as the materials are non-toxic, degradable and allow structural manipulation not possible with natural polymers. For example, we found that star polypeptides readily form strong self-supporting and sheer thinning hydrogels – ideal for 3D printing. Here we are seeking a chemist (desirably with polymer experience) for the development of a new class of bioinks based on star polypeptides. These materials could pave the way for the development of tailor-made cell-compatible hydrogel inks which can create bio- functional structures. Notably, the development of printer technology has significantly outpaced the development of new advanced inks and the limited number of suitable bioinks has been identified as the major barrier to progress for the development of tissue engineering applications.

The proposed project is timely and fully aligned with national research interests and industry investments: Johnson&Johnson have recently agreed to fully fund a 3D printing laboratory in AMBER (all project (co)supervisors are AMBER PIs). Henkel Ireland also opened a new 3D printing laboratory. There will thus be a high demand for new bioinks which underpins the potential for RCSI to take a leading position in this area.


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