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Adv Healthc Mater. 2017 Nov;6(21). doi: 10.1002/adhm.201700598. Epub 2017 Jul 31.

Freeze-Drying as a Novel Biofabrication Method for Achieving a Controlled Microarchitecture within Large, Complex Natural Biomaterial Scaffolds.

Author information

Tissue Engineering Research Group, Department of Anatomy, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.
School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton St, Dublin 1, Ireland.
Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research (AMBER) Centre, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland.
Department of Women's Health, Research Institute of Women's Health, University Hospital of the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, 72074, Tübingen, Germany.
Department of Cell and Tissue Engineering, Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, 70569, Stuttgart, Germany.
Department of Biohybrid and Medical Textiles (BioTex) at AME-Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering and ITA-Institut für Textiltechnik, RWTH Aachen University, 52074, Aachen, Germany.
School of Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.


The biofabrication of large natural biomaterial scaffolds into complex 3D shapes which have a controlled microarchitecture remains a major challenge. Freeze-drying (or lyophilization) is a technique used to generate scaffolds in planar 3D geometries. Here we report the development of a new biofabrication process to form a collagen-based scaffold into a large, complex geometry which has a large height to width ratio, and a controlled porous microarchitecture. This biofabrication process is validated through the successful development of a heart valve shaped scaffold, fabricated from a collagen-glycosaminoglycan co-polymer. Notably, despite the significant challenges in using freeze-drying to create such a structure, the resultant scaffold has a uniform, homogenous pore architecture throughout. This is achieved through optimization of the freeze-drying mold and the freezing parameters. We believe this to be the first demonstration of using freeze-drying to create a large, complex scaffold geometry with a controlled, porous architecture for natural biomaterials. This study validates the potential of using freeze-drying for development of organ-specific scaffold geometries for tissue engineering applications, which up until now might not have been considered feasible.


collagen; freeze-drying; heart valves; scaffolds; tissue engineering

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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