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 artificial tissue engineering 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 damaging the biological sample. We develop selectively enzymatically degradable biohybrid 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. 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, artificial tissue without the necessitiy of any carrier material.
As a proof of concept, we have demonstrated the usefulness of this technique creating scaffold-free corneal endothelial lamellae (artificial DMEK tissues) ex vivo. This type of tissue is a very simple cell monolayer, but at the same time extremely challenging in its production and transfer because of its very fragile nature. Over the last years, biological advances have allowed expansion and implementation of primary human cells for corneal tissue production. Our technology can now utilize these advances to produce fully functional and carrier-free tissue grafts (implants) to cure cornea blindness worldwide.
Utilization of our technology as a novel approach for the material digestion opens a completely new perspective for biomaterial applications for living cells, tissues and organs in vitro or in vivo.
We are currently part of a consortium for a H2020 application (SC1-BHC-07-2019). Together with a biomaterial research institutes and clinical research facilities, our technology will be further developed. The project application aims to apply this technology to different tissue types other than cornea. We are still looking for more partners to complete our consortium. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.