Biodegradable polymer scaffold fabrication and the creation of tissue-engineered bone
Thomson, Robert Craig
Miller, Michael J.
Doctor of Philosophy
It is estimated that over one million surgeries to restore lost bone function are performed each year in the U.S. Although existing therapies generally result in adequate restoration of mechanical or aesthetic function, they are by no means ideal. An alternative method for bone regeneration has been proposed which utilizes autologous cell transplantation within porous biodegradable polymer foam scaffolds. The work presented in this thesis was aimed at creating a porous biodegradable scaffold with appropriate mechanical properties, which in concert with an appropriate vascular environment, would be sufficient to create tissue engineered bone. A method was developed to fabric ate three-dimensional poly(DL-lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) foams which involves the production of PLGA/gelatin composites followed by leaching of the embedded gelatin microspheres. These PLGA foams had insufficient yield strength in compression. However, the results served as a basis for the design of foams with mechanical properties suitable for bone regeneration. As a means of enhancing foam compressive strength, this processing technique was modified to produce composite foams of PLGA and hydroxyapatite short fibers. Low porosity composite foams with enhanced compressive yield strengths were produced. We were able to manufacture: high porosity foams suitable for cell seeding but which have minimal compressive yield strength; or low porosity foams with enhanced compressive yield strength but which may not suitable for cell seeding. Using bone chambers filled with morcellized bone graft and implanted against ovine rib periosteum, we were able to form a clinically significant mass of vascularized bone with substantial compressive strength which was comparable to normal bone. Appropriately designed PLGA foams implanted against the periosteum allowed vascularized tissue ingrowth. We believe this tissue may have a large number of osteoprogenitor cells of periosteal origin and may therefore possess significant osteogenic potential. The methodologies developed and described in this thesis represent powerful regenerative tools which may someday result in the realization of our ultimate goal: the creation of tissue engineered bone.
Biomedical engineering; Chemical engineering; Engineering; Materials science