Modular scaffolds for regenerative medicine

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Current bone scaffold options are limited in their ability to control and guide host-tissue ingrowth. OHSU researcher Dr. Luiz Bertassoni has designed a 3-D printed modular bone scaffold system, which functions as an array of microcages that can be loaded with the delivery factor of choice, and be easily stacked like LEGO blocks to adapt to any defect size and shape. This material has shown a ~3-fold improvement in vasculature ingrowth when implanted in-vivo in comparison to conventional composite materials. This has remarkable potential for facilitating vascularization of newly formed bone, in the core or large regenerated tissues. 

Technology Overview

Regeneration of bone tissue is challenging as it requires scaffolding materials that have a rigid but biodegradable structure that also mimics the density of natural bone to allow for revascularization and osteogenesis. Current scaffold materials come as monolithic blocks, which are difficult to shape to a desired size, or pastes that lack sufficient rigidity and porosity. Dr. Bertassoni has designed a biocompatible 3-D printed modular scaffold system using calcium and phosphate, which can be made readily available on the shelf and easy to assemble on-site such as in an operating room. Each modular unit possesses a male-female side, which allows for straightforward and on-the-fly stack-ability (see Figure). Fabrication of virtually unlimited complex heterotypic constructs can be accomplished without the need for any specialized equipment or personnel. The modular units are hollow, facilitating vascular network, nutrients, and cell penetration into the construct's core as early as seven days. Degradation of this scaffold releases calcium and phosphate, which is known to stimulate osteogenesis. In addition, individual units can be loaded with hydrogels carrying therapeutics (Cells, proteins, drugs, etc.), enabling tissue site-specific delivery. Hydrogel loading could vary by each modular unit, potentially allowing for gradients of released factors or site-specific directed outcomes.  This novel strategy overcomes existing limitations in bone scaffold materials by offering an easy-to-adapt implant, that requires no training to manually adjust the shape and size, with a hollow design for hydrogel loading to further promote bone regrowth.


Subbiah et al., “3D Printing of Microgel-loaded Modular Microcages as Instructive Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering.” Advanced Materials 32(2020): 2001736. Link

Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for partnering and co-development.


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Lisa Lukaesko
Technology Development Manager
Oregon Health & Science University
Luiz Bertassoni
Avathamsa Athirasala
Anthony Tahayeri
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