LABS
BIOMATERIALS AND TE
CELL-INSTRUCTIVE MATERIALS
ORGANOTYPIC TISSUES
BIOMEDICAL DEVICES
LAB-ON-CHIP/ LAB-ON-DROP
NANOMEDICINE
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY LAB
BIOROBOTICS LAB
BIOMATERIALS AND TISSUE ENGINEERING
Materials that interact with living entities and that are aimed at restoring functions of injured or diseased tissues and organs, or more generally at improving the quality of life are termed biomaterials. According to this, an enormous amount of items or devices are classified as biomaterials: from contact lenses to hip prosthesis, from dental fillers to artificial heart. Huge improvements have been achieved within the biomaterials field in the last decades owing to advancements in science and technology and most importantly thanks to the integration of material science and process engineering with life science principles. The scientific community and the industrial sector are constantly putting efforts to make biomaterials safer, more effective and less invasive.
The market of biomaterials is vast and steadily growing. It has an estimated global value of $62B growing at 16% rate and is expected to reach $130B in 2020. Cardiovascular and orthopedic are the segments accounting for the largest shares. In Europe, for example, owing to the increase in geriatric population, more and more patients need prosthesis to restore degenerated tissues and organs. 800000 hip prosthesis are implanted, 1200000 vascular stents and 50000 heart valve replacement surgeries are performed each year.
Tissue engineering uses specifically designed biomaterials to host cells and stimulate them to generate functional tissues either in vitro or in vivo. Tissue engineering holds the promise to solve therapeutic problems in which conventional prosthesis can exert only a partial or limited effect (for example corneal tissue, nerve replacements, cartilage replacements, etc.). To implement a tissue engineered product or device, understanding cell behavior in synthetic systems, tailor biochemical and biophysical material properties and process cells in vitro are all crucial aspects. Today, more than 100 commercial companies involved in the Tissue Engineering field operate in the US alone most of them having orthopedic or wound healing as core business. The development of this industry has been very costly, however this trend reversed in the last 10 years and nowadays sales are comparable to investments (~ $4B per year).
In the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, students will study and understand the principles behind biomaterials, prosthesis and scaffold design and fabrication, how devices are tested and how their performances can be assessed.