The creation of tissue and organs in artificial environments relies on advanced platforms for gentle removal of cultured transplants. TissueGUARD develops a biomaterial for the de novo creation of scaffold-free tissues and organs. This innovation allows not only to cultivate the artificially engineered cell constructs, but also to isolate them from the culture platform without chemical or physical damage.
The demand for transplants notably exceeds their availability. In the long term, the TissueGUARD technology will open up new perspectives for engineering artificially produced tissue to help millions of people worldwide who depend on tissue transplants.
Our biotechnology platform allows any live cells, tissue, or organs, to be encapsulated, manipulated, and released from our novel hydrogel materials without physically or chemically damaging the biological sample. We develop selectively enzymatically degradable bioinspired materials suitable for the isolation of tissues or organs without any attached foreign material (scaffold-free) in order to create a new approach for ex vivo tissue production. Additionally, the biological sample is produced and isolated under sterile conditions which tackles infection problems originating from non-sterile whole-size donor samples.
The material is designed in a way that upon degradation of the cell culture carrier, any cell-cell and cell-matrix contacts as well as the extracellular matrix of the formed tissue remains chemically and physically untouched. The user has full control over the time point of degradation (e.g. cells reach confluence) with the addition of a selective enzyme at a low concentration. The culture carrier itself is degraded to small, water-soluble molecules, which enables to receive a free-floating, artificially produced tissue without the necessity of any carrier material.
As a proof of concept, we have demonstrated the usefulness of this technique creating scaffold-free corneal endothelial cell sheet (DMEK graft artificially produced from donated cells) ex vivo. We call this type of graft "engineered DMEK" - eDMEK. The eDMEK tissues produced in an artificial environment using our technology showed identical behavior (e.g. tissue scroll) compared to native donor tissues, but with a cell density/quality more than 1.5/2-fold greater than common donated DMEK tissues.
We are convinced that our technology to produce fully functional and scaffold-free tissue grafts (implants) will be readily available to cure corneal blindness worldwide.
Utilization of our technology as a novel approach for the material digestion opens a completely new perspective in biomaterial applications for living cells, tissues and organs ex vivo and in vivo.
We currently focus on ophthalmology applications, especially lamellar or anterior keratoplasty, but we are constantly looking for partners in the opthalmology field and other fields of tissue transplantation.