The overall research theme at the Center for Craniofacial Regeneration (CCR) is to develop therapies for musculo-skeletal and mineralized tissue engineering in the craniofacial areas. To achieve these goals a major focus has been placed on the interface of biology and materials development. This has contributed to the extensive breath and depth of the research program and the expertise of the faculty involved. These research areas span Several research areas have been developed and are actively pursued in the center:
Resorbable metals –
Magnesium based metals have several
advantages over other commonly used orthopedic materials. For
example, it has a fracture toughness greater than that of many
ceramic materials, and a yield strength and stiffness more
similar to that of cortical bone. Furthermore, Mg-alloy implants
degrade naturally in vivo, eliminating the need for
subsequent implant removal surgeries upon fracture healing or bone
growth. When properly controlled, this resorption has been shown to
cause minimal inflammation, and may actually benefit the body as Mg
is a natural component of bone and a co-factor for hundreds of
enzymatic processes. For these reasons, Mg-alloys are being
re-explored as orthopedic implants and could be more clinically
relevant substrate than previously explored polymeric gels
Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering
Biominerals, such as those found in shells, bones, and teeth are produced by organisms ranging from bacteria to higher plants and mammals. Our studies are focused on understanding basic strategies of mineralization in biological systems and on applying those strategies to the design of new, nanostructured composite materials.
Cell differentiation and signaling
Mineralized structures – Center members are interested in the role of the extracellular matrix of bone and dentin in cell signaling and differentiation. The extracellular matrix (ECM) provides the asppropriate microenvironment or cell niche into which the cell differentiate and exert its function. The ECM provides the right cues for the activation of the cell signaling pathways. Identifying these new signaling pathways and the regulation systems for the expression of bone and dentin genes. Manipulation of these pathways will guide cells to develop into specific tissues.
Cell-surface interaction – a major focus of the Center. Studying how fabricated patterned surfaces affect stem cells illustrates the biology of cells as they interface with the next generation of tissue-engineered biodegradable scaffolds.
Rapid prototyping / 3D
Center members are
developing three dimensional scaffolds of this material combined
with composite materials. These will generate the combination of
soft and mineralized tissues necessary for the restoration of facial
Stem Cells Scaffoldless project. Gene and
Gene and Drug Delivery
This research will provide potential therapies for craniofacial and orthopedic bone regeneration, dentin regeneration, temporomandibular joint diseases, craniosynostosis, periodontal regeneration and cleft lip and palate
This work soon will make several landmark achievements possible: the synthesis of material based on bone/dentin proteins, the growth of teeth in vitro, the creation of novel biomaterials based on nanotechnology, and a suite of new mineralized tissues and structures.