Hybrid hydrogels – Personalized regeneration of cartilage tissue
There is great interest in personalized therapies for the treatment of injuries or age‑related degeneration of cartilage tissue. The aim is the creation of customizable, biobased cartilage implants that is matched to type‑specific requirements such as weight and physical agility of the patient and support the formation of new cartilage. In order to realize such cartilage replacement materials, gait analyses were carried out in the Dyna Implant project by Fraunhofer IPA and the necessary physical properties of the tissue replacement to be implanted were simulated biomechanically.
Fraunhofer IGB produced gelatin‑based hybrid hydrogels that simulate the natural tissue environment of cartilage cells and thus promote the biofunctionality and matrix production of the cells. An additive process was developed to combine hydrogel solutions with a gradient of cartilage‑specific proteoglycans to form a biomimetic zonal hydrogel. The cell‑containing hydrogels were produced with a mechanical strength of up to 170 kPa and subsequently cultivated under dynamic compression in a bioreactor designed by the IPA.
The fixation of the tissue equivalents to the natural tissue represents a further challenge in the treatment of cartilage defects. To bond the developed cartilage materials to the biological tissue, the hydrogel surfaces were modified and achieved initial adhesion both with and without commercial tissue adhesives. The active principle was the application of surface modifications with blood coagulation-promoting properties.