Biofabricated scaffolds for rotator cuff repair
Recurrent rotator cuff tears cost ~NZ$100m pa and heal poorly into functionally compromised fibrotic scar tissue (Fig 2). Tissue engineering has the potential to contribute to successful tendon healing; using a biomaterial scaffold inserted at the site of injury, providing temporary mechanical support, while ultimately enhancing tissue regeneration.
We utilise advanced 3D Printing techniques to develop synthetic degradable scaffolds with hierarchical structures for rotator cuff repair. Due to unique processing techniques, these flexible scaffolds have shown promising compressive and tensile mechanical properties.
We have established a pre-clinical model for rotator cuff repair in which we have initiated testing scaffolds with and without added growth factors. We have analysed two biomaterials from commercial partners, developed within New Zealand and the UK. We have also identified a collagen scaffold, developed by the Ophthalmology Department at the University of Auckland, which has been patent-protected for use in tissue regeneration (Fig 3). This latter scaffold is showing success with tendon repair and we are currently modifying it to gain further strength by cross-linking the collagen.