Emerging Biofabrication Techniques: A Review on Natural Polymers for Biomedical Applications

Natural polymers have been widely used for biomedical applications in recent decades. They offer the advantages of resembling the extracellular matrix of native tissues and retaining biochemical cues and properties necessary to enhance their biocompatibility, so they usually improve the cellular attachment and behavior and avoid immunological reactions. Moreover, they offer a rapid degradability through natural enzymatic or chemical processes. However, natural polymers present poor mechanical strength, which frequently makes the manipulation processes difficult. Recent advances in biofabrication, 3D printing, microfluidics, and cell-electrospinning allow the manufacturing of complex natural polymer matrixes with biophysical and structural properties similar to those of the extracellular matrix. In addition, these techniques offer the possibility of incorporating different cell lines into the fabrication process, a revolutionary strategy broadly explored in recent years to produce cell-laden scaffolds that can better mimic the properties of functional tissues. In this review, the use of 3D printing, microfluidics, and electrospinning approaches has been extensively investigated for the biofabrication of naturally derived polymer scaffolds with encapsulated cells intended for biomedical applications (e.g., cell therapies, bone and dental grafts, cardiovascular or musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, and wound healing).

Puertas-Bartolomé, M., Mora-Boza, A. & García-Fernández, L. Emerging Biofabrication Techniques: A Review on Natural Polymers for Biomedical Applications. Polymers 13, 1209 (2021). Cite

Micro-structured 3D-electrospun scaffolds of biodegradable block copolymers for soft tissue regeneration

The present article describes the application of a poly(ethylene terephthalate) mesh as template for the preparation of micro-structured fibres mat by electrospinning of biodegradable triblock copolymers based on polylactic acid and poly(butylene succinate/azelate) random copolymer. These copolymers present and excellent controlled biodegradation process in physiological conditions, with interesting applications in targeting and controlled release of different drugs.

After the application of the poly(ethylene terephthalate) mesh in the electrospinning process, the detachment of the template provides a specific oriented microfibres mat, that affect to the adhesion and proliferation of cell seeded on the networks. In addition, the microfibres mats were loaded with dexamethasone as anti-inflammatory drug. The release of the drug takes place in a controlled relative short period due to the formation of drug crystals on the surface of the fibres during the electrospinning process. This issue can be restrained by acting on the triblock copolymer composition, improving the drug-polymer compatibility. Copolymerization also allows the modulation of the biodegradation rate. The biodegradable scaffolds under investigation can be therefore considered very promising for regenerative medicine and soft tissue engineering.

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