Three Master’s theses completed within InterLynk

In InterLynk we are proud to have guided three Master’s students through their learning journey, supporting them as they discover in more depths the fields of Biotechnology and Biomedical Materials and Devices. All three students have worked in different ways on the development of multimaterial 3D-printed scaffolds for tissue regeneration. Find out more about their work in the following paragraphs.

HERBERT MIDDLETON, completed his MSc. thesis in Biomedical Materials and Devices under the supervision of InterLynk scientists Tiago Correia and Susana Olhero. His thesis, entitled “Design of new photocrosslinkable highly bioactive composite materials for bone tissue repair” deals in particular with calcium phosphate particles as one of the ingredients for the bioinks developed within InterLynk.

“When designing composite hydrogel scaffolds obtained through light-based polymerisation, researchers are often limited as to how much opaque particle content they can incorporate. With this in mind, my master’s thesis objective was to confer photoreactive functional groups to the incorporated calcium phosphate particles (within a photocrosslinkable, highly bioactive, protein-based hydrogel). This provides researchers with another strategy for increasing particle content and avoiding delamination in printed hydrogels, by InterLynk-ing the particle surface groups to the modified protein, thus compensating for light blockage and increasing structure cohesion. During this project, I gained a lot of hands-on experience with inorganic syntheses, surface chemistry and a plethora of different material characterisation techniques, all thanks to the InterLynk project!” (Herbert Middleton)

JOAO MAIA completed his thesis in the field of Biotechnology, entitled "Tunable and light-responsive nanocomposite for bone regeneration". He was supervised by InterLynk researchers Rita Sobreiro-Almeida and Professor João Mano and hosted by the COMPASS research group at the Aveiro Institute of Materials (CICECO) from the University of Aveiro. His thesis was at the basis of a recent publication in the Journal of Physics: Materials (read here our story).

“My work’s objectives are directly related to those of InterLynk as my research was particularly focused on the formulation of a nanocomposite biomaterial ink for 3D printing advanced devices capable of bone repair. The developed nanocomposite system consists of a light-responsive protein matrix with bioactive calcium phosphates nanoparticles immobilized with a chemical primary crosslinking strategy. This primary reticulation additionally equips the nanocomposite with the necessary rheological properties necessary for its 3D bioprinting. Finally, via the secondary photocrosslinking the nanocomposite structures can be photocured creating mechanically robust implantable structures for bone tissue regeneration.” (João Maia)

MARTA ALBUQUERQUE developed her thesis “Melt-electrowritten scaffolds containing hydroxyapatite for guided bone tissue regeneration” in collaboration with the Complex Tissue Regeneration Department at MERLN (Maastricht University) and was supervised by Susana Olhero and Rita Sobreiro-Almeida from UAVR and Joanna Babilotte from Maastricht University.

“My goal was to produce nanocomposite scaffolds by melt-electrowriting, a biofabrication technique that enables the production of thin fibres with a diameter smaller than 100 um. The produced scaffolds demonstrated aligned geometries and the successful inclusion of nanohydroxyapatite in their composition. They also revealed being biocompatible when combined with stem cells. As a future goal, we intend to incorporate these scaffolds into multimaterial scaffolds for temporomandibular joint regeneration.” (Marta Albuquerque)

We thank our Master’s students for their dedication and commitment throughout their studies, congratulate them on their achievements and wish them all the best for the future.