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A Remote-Controlled Smart Platform for Organ Repair

Researchers have designed a system capable of stage-specific cell manipulation for endothelialisation triggered by near infrared (NIR) light.

Endothelialisation, a key element in tissue regeneration, is a complex process requiring dynamic regulation by the extracellular matrix at different stages. Undesirable endothelialisation is the major cause of cardiovascular disorders, a leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

Existing synthetic biomaterials designed to confront this challenge usually exhibit static properties, which cannot offer dynamic and particularly on-demand inducement of specific cell functions at different stages of endothelialisation.

In a research article recently published in the Beijing-based National Science Review, scientists at Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a material capable of topographical rearrangement that can be remotely controlled by light, allowing the regulation of endothelialisation in a well-defined sequential manner.

The researchers prepared a bilayer platform consisting of one shape memory layer (made of polymers) and one photothermal layer (made of gold nanorods). The shape memory layer preserves the originally stable anisotropic microgroove array topography of the platform, which induces recruitment/migration of endothelial cells (early stage of endothelialisation). Upon ten seconds of NIR irradiation (808 nm), the heat generated on the photothermal layer will induce a change in the surface topography to a permanent isotropic micropillar array, which promotes adhesion/spreading of endothelial cells (late stage of endothelialisation).

As a result, this platform successfully promoted different stages of endothelialisation sequentially, which replicates conditions in the human body for the first time using synthetic biomaterials.

“Traditionally, biomaterials and tissue engineering scaffolds offer suitable platforms to support cell attachment and ingrowth. Nowadays, we aim to develop biomaterials with dynamic properties to actively modulate different cell functions in specific spatiotemporal manners, just like the native extracellular matrix in our bodies,” said Dr. Du Xuemin, lead author of the paper. “We believe the biomaterials with dynamic properties will significantly contribute to the progresses of wound healing and complex tissue/organ regeneration”. [APBN]