Science award for new approach to tissue engineering
Using a new type of titanium chamber, researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have been able to engineer artificial tissue which can be transplanted into patients with tissue defects. The German Society of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons (DGPRÄC) awarded this year’s science prize to PD Dr. Andreas Arkudas for his habilitation treatise. Arkudas has been part of the “Tissue Engineering” research group led by the Director of the Department of Plastic and Hand Surgery at the Erlangen University Hospital, Prof. Dr. Raymund E. Horch, for several years; his focus has been on improving blood circulation in newly engineered tissue.
In the past, tissue engineering in laboratories was usually no problem. Using the procedure in patients, however, has mostly failed so far due to insufficient blood flow to the newly created tissue. Using an artificial arteriovenous loop (AV loop) within the small-animal model of rats, Arkudas examined the formation of new blood vessels in skeletons as well as fibrin glues. By placing the newly engineering tissue inside a teflon chamber together with the AV loop, the loop could be examined independent of other external influences within the organism. Arkuda documented his findings in his habilitation treatise titled ‘”Optimisation of vascularisation of matrices with axial blood supply in tissue engineering”. ‘Our research group was able to show that improved blood supply increases cell survival in bone tissue and vascularisation around the arteriovenous loop,’ said Prof. Horch. The group also examined the effect of different fibrin glues on vascularisation.
New type of titanium chamber helps bone replacement through tissue engineering.
But the the Erlangen researchers’ breakthrough in tissue engineering came when they employed a novel type of perforated titanium chamber that allows for additional vascularisation from the outside. The titanium chamber for tissue engineering was designed in collaboration with the materials scientists at FAU’s Faculty of Engineering. ‘Dr. Arkudas was able to show for the first time that the blood vessels growing into the tissue through the pores of the titanium chamber connect with the newly formed blood vessels from the AV loop, meaning that these vessels, too, can be transplanted with the help of the AV loop,’ Horch explained. ‘This is vital for the treatment of humans, as the engineered tissue is supposed to be prepared in another part of the body before it is transplanted into the tissue defect caused by radiation, an accident or infection, where it must connect with the host’s existing blood vessels.’ A further advantage of the titanium chamber is the possible combination with the surgical management of bone defects (ostheosynthesis). Transplantation of engineered bone tissue into bone defects is currently still being researched. Horch: ‘Should it be possible to heal bone defects with the titanium chamber, the plastic surgeons in Erlangen will have come a lot closer to the goal of healing tissue defects with the help of a tissue construct that is individually formed, supplied with blood, and adapted to the patient’s particular needs.’
The excellent success of this research is, according to Horch, largely thanks to the close collaboration within FAU – both between the individual departments at the Faculty of Medicine as well as between the different faculties. The materials scientists at the Faculty of Engineering (Prof. Dr. Carolin Körner, Prof. Dr. Robert F. Singer, Prof. Dr. Peter Greil and Prof. Dr. Aldo R. Boccaccini) devised the titanium chamber for tissue engineering. Imaging to show the changes in blood circulation was developed using special new methods in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Willi A. Kalender (Medical Physics) and PD Dr. Andreas Hess (Pharamocology and Toxicology). Last but not least, says Horch, FAU’s research has strengthened the EFI (Emerging Fields Initiative) programme and thus provided a valuable impulse.
Prof. Dr. Raymund E. Horch