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Technology

Our bioresorbable scaffolds possess a non-woven three-dimensional architecture, comprising nano/micro-scale synthetic bioresorbable polymer fibres. The highly porous scaffold structure supports the migration and proliferation of fibroblast cells from surrounding healthy skin tissue in order to facilitate healing of the wound.

As fibroblasts populate the scaffold and begin to generate new tissue, the bioresorbable fibres are gradually broken down by hydrolysis. After 7-10 days the material ceases to provide a scaffold architecture to the cells and is completely degraded after 3 weeks in situ. The by-products of hydrolysis are metabolised by normal biochemical pathways, ultimately being lost during respiration as carbon dioxide and water.

The bioresorbable nature of the scaffold means that it does not require subsequent removal, but acts as a temporary support for cells involved in the healing process until its eventual replacement by new tissue. Blood vessel formation follows, ensuring good tissue viability.

Bioresorbable polymers are also often described as bioabsorbable, bioerodable or biodegradable.

Neotherix scaffold technology features:

  • The synthetic resorbable polymers used in our scaffolds are proven biomaterials, having a long history of use in medical devices.
  • The synthetic nature of the scaffold material avoids the possible risk of disease transmission sometimes associated with materials derived from animal or human sources, and avoids the potential ethical and religious barriers to the use of such materials.
  • The scaffolds are completely resorbable, removing the need for invasive and painful removal after healing.
  • Hydrolysis by-products generated during resorption are metabolised by normal biochemical pathways.
  • The technology is relatively low cost compared to cell-seeded scaffolds, and does not involve the labour-intensive processing associated with cell seeding.
  • Scaffolds are easy to use and available off-the-shelf.

Neotherix scaffold technology benefits:

  • Cost and time savings compared to surgical intervention or biological scaffold use.
  • Allows continuum of patient treatment by the same clinical specialist (eg Dermatologist for skin cancer excision repair).

Electrospinning
A simplified schematic of the electrospinning process
A simplified schematic of the electrospinning process. A polymer solution held in a syringe (A) is fed to a metal needle (B). A high voltage supply (C) is connected to the needle, producing a fine jet of polymer solution (D). This dries out in transit, resulting in fine fibres which are collected on an earthed target (E).

Our scaffolds are manufactured using the versatile technique of electrospinning. Although the basic principles were originally discovered by Lord Rayleigh [1] over 120 years ago, and the first patents for forming polymer fibres by electrospinning were published in 1902 [2], electrospinning has only gained significant popularity as a manufacturing technique within the last decade [3-6].

Electrospinning was initially used to fabricate non-woven fabrics for industrial or household use. In recent years, the number of applications under investigation for electrospun fibres has significantly expanded to include tissue engineering, filtration, drug delivery, high-strength composites, enzyme and catalyst supports, high performance fabrics, electrical devices and optical devices [7-8].

Electrospinning involves the application of a high voltage electric field to a polymer solution or melt, so that mutual charge repulsion on the surface of the liquid overcomes the surface tension and causes a thin liquid jet to be ejected. As the jet travels towards a collector (at a different electric potential), electrostatic repulsion from charges on the surface causes the jet diameter to narrow. Often, instabilities in the electric field cause the jet to enter a whipping mode, which stretches the jet and further narrows its diameter. Sometimes, the electrostatic repulsion can cause the jet to split into even narrower jets.

Scanning electron micrograph of bioresorbable electrospun fibres
Scanning electron micrograph of typical bioresorbable electrospun fibres with a mean fibre diameter of 1.7 µm.

Continuous solid polymer fibres are formed as the jet dries or cools, which accumulate on the collector to form a non-woven material. These fibres can typically possess diameters between 10 nm and 10 µm, resulting in materials with very high surface areas.

References
  1. Lord Rayleigh, JWG, London, Edinburgh and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, 1882, 14, 184-186.
  2. Cooley, JF, US Patent 692,631, 1902 Link to external web site & Morton, WJ, US Patent 705,691, 1902 Link to external web site.
  3. Li, W-J, Shanti, RM, and Tuan RS, "Electrospinning Technology for Nanofibrous Scaffolds in Tissue Engineering", in Nanotechnologies for the Life Sciences, Vol. 9, p135-187.
  4. Murugan, R and Ramakrishna, S, Tissue Engineering, 2006, 12, 435-447.
  5. Pham, QP, Sharma, U, and Mikos, AG, Tissue Engineering, 2006, 12, 1197-1211.
  6. Teo, WE and Ramakrishna, S, Nanotechnology, 2006, 17, R89-R106.
  7. Huang, ZM, Zhang, Y-Z, Kotaki, M et al, Composites Science & Technology, 2003, 63, 2223-2253.
  8. Li, D and Xia, Y, Advanced Materials, 2004, 16, 1151-1170.
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