Title : Electroactive polymer-based smart scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine
Cellular scaffolds are a critical component of any system for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. So far, poor attention has been focused on scaffolds that can mimic the extracellular matrix not only statically, but also dynamically, especially for tissues that have to experience large variable deformations (e.g. muscular, cardiac and lung tissues). This talk will introduce ElectroActive Polymers (EAPs) as a promising technology in order to provide cellular scaffolds with intrinsic actuation capabilities. EAPs consist of synthetic materials capable of changing dimensions and/or shape in response to an electrical stimulus. They show useful actuation properties, such as sizable active strains and/or stresses, large compliance, low density, low power consumption and ease of processing. Ongoing research in our group will be described, showing soft and electromechanically activated bioreactors with inherent cell stretching functions. They are investigated to deliver controllable mechanical stimuli to cell cultures, in order to regulate their developmental processes. The talk will show how the greatest promise of the proposed technology relies on its high versatility, compact size, low weight and scalability, as well as low cost.