Synthetic surfaces are functionalized with modified biopolymers (such as heparin), growth factors (such as vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF) and specific anchoring proteins for cells (e.g. the peptide sequence arginine-glycineaspartic acid, RGD), which allow the colonization of the endothelial cells into the materials. The formation of a confluent cell sheet on the synthetic surface can be achieved by the binding of modified heparin and RGD. Additionally, the thrombogenicity of the synthetic material may be significantly reduced.
As an alternative to the biofunctionalization step, the Fraunhofer IGB is developing hybrid materials from synthetic materials and biological components for a direct, one-step construction of biofunctional artificial vessels. For this purpose, we have modified biopolymers with polymerizable groups allowing their incorporation into the ink-formulation for the rapid-prototyping step. In doing so, the material contains covalently attached biomolecules, which improves an interaction with human cells.