From Scaffold Design to Control Stem Cell Fate to Bioprinting

Organs are complex systems, comprised of different tissues, proteins, and cells, which communicate to orchestrate a myriad of functions in our bodies. Technologies are needed to replicate these structures towards the development of new therapies for tissue and organ repair, as well as for in vitro 3D models to better understand the morphogenetic biological processes that drive organogenesis.

To construct tissues and organs, biofabrication strategies are being developed to impart spatiotemporal control over cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix communication, often through control over cell and material deposition and placement. Here, we present some of our most recent advancements in biofabrication that enabled the control of cell activity, moving towards enhanced tissue regeneration as well as the possibility to create more complex 3D in vitro models to study biological processes

A presentation by Professor Lorenzo Moroni, Complex Tissue Regeneration, MERLN Institute-Maastricht University.

Interview

Question 1: What drives you?
The desire to contribute to new regenerative medical technologies that could improve the health of patients.

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
Because it will show a lot of the fun and exciting research we do.

Question 3: What emerging technologies / trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
Biofabrication technologies of course!

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
They will transform our healthcare system by providing new medtech products to help clinicians restoring our tissue and organ functionality.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
Regulations; upscaling costs; accessibility to investments to move from bench to bedside

About Lorenzo Moroni
Prof. Lorenzo Moroni studied Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy, and Nanoscale Sciences at Chalmers Technical University, Sweden. He received his Ph.D. cum laude in 2006 at University of Twente on 3D scaffolds for osteochondral regeneration, for which he was awarded the European doctorate award in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering from the European Society of Biomaterials (ESB). In 2007, he worked at Johns Hopkins University as a post-doctoral fellow in the Elisseeff lab, focusing on hydrogels and stem cells. In 2008, he was appointed the R&D director of the Musculoskeletal Tissue Bank of Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute, where he investigated the use of stem cells from alternative sources for cell banking, and the development of novel bioactive scaffolds for skeletal regeneration. From 2009 till 2014, he joined again University of Twente, where he got tenured in the Tissue Regeneration department.

Since 2014 he works at Maastricht University, where he is a founding member of the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine. In 2016, he became full professor in biofabrication for regenerative medicine.

His research group interests aim at developing biofabrication technologies to generate libraries of 3D scaffolds able to control cell fate, with applications spanning from skeletal to vascular, neural, and organ regeneration.

In 2014, he received the prestigious Jean Leray award for outstanding young principal investigators from the ESB and the ERC starting grant. In 2016, he also received the prestigious Young Scientist Award for outstanding principal investigators from TERMIS. In 2017, he was elected as faculty of the Young Academy of Europe and in the top 100 Italian scientists within 40 worldwide by the European Institute of Italian Culture. Since 2019, he is chair of the Complex Tissue Regeneration department and vice-director of MERLN.

About MERLN Institute
MERLN’s focus area is regenerative medicine, which encompasses a variety of therapeutic strategies that aim to augment, repair, replace or regenerate biological tissues. This emerging field involves various disciplines such as biomaterials, cell therapy, and tissue engineering.

Our principal investigators, postdocs and PhD students come from a variety of scientific backgrounds making MERLN’s research highly interdisciplinary. Moreover, MERLN is very international: we have colleagues from over 30 different countries from all over the world!

The MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine was founded in 2014 by Prof. Clemens van Blitterswijk. Van Blitterswijk also headed the Complex Tissue Regeneration (CTR) department at that time. Together with the other two departments, namely Instructive Biomaterial Engineering (IBE), led by Prof. Pamela Habibovic and Cell Biology-Inspired Tissue Engineering (cBITE), led by Prof. Jan de Boer, MERLN quickly grew to become a successful institute performing cutting-edge science, establishing new interdisciplinary collaborations, and building up an excellent regional, national and international reputation.

Van Blitterswijk led the institute until December 2018, after which Pamela Habibovic became its new Scientific Director. At the same time, Prof. Lorenzo Moroni took over as head of the CTR department and began as the institute’s Deputy Director, while Jan de Boer moved to the Technical University Eindhoven. In September 2019, cBITE gained a new department head, when Prof. Martijn van Griensven was appointed. Van Blitterswijk still continues to serve as a principal investigator and scientific advisor to MERLN and joins our Business Development Officer, Prof. Marianne van der Steen, on MERLN’s advisory team.

Lorenzo Moroni is speaker at the 2022 edition of the 3D BioPrinting Conference.

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