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Development of an extracellular matrix mimetic hydrogel for 3D bioprinting applications: chemical interventions for biomechanical optimization


The development of hydrogels for 3D bioprinting applications has been the focus of intense investment by Universities and companies around the world. These hydrogels seek to mimic characteristics of the extracellular matrix environment, such as biochemical clues and biomechanical stimuli. We have recently optimized and standardized the process of manufacturing decellularized extracellular matrix hydrogels. Such hydrogels are of special interest because they provide cells with a set of properties and signals from the native microenvironment - structural and biological - capable of acting as the matrix itself, supporting and guiding cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. Although these hydrogels represent the biochemical microenvironment very well, they still lack biomechanical properties compatible with the native tissue. Because they are formed from weak physical interactions, decellularized extracellular matrix hydrogels are not capable of withstanding high mechanical loads and have poor stability or shape retention. Therefore, the primary objective of the present project is to develop extracellular matrix mimetic hydrogels with biochemical and mechanical properties suitable for application in 3D bioprinting by modifying their structure to favor the formation of chemical hydrogels, crosslinked by covalent bonds. In summary, the present project aims to evaluate the technical and scientific feasibility of the manufacture of chemically modified decellularized extracellular matrix hydrogels to be used as bioinks in the 3D bioprinting process. (AU)

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