Tissue Engineering emerged in the early 90´s on the basis of fabricating designer biomaterial scaffolds to guide cell attachment, distribution, differentiation and the deposition of an extra cellular matrix (ECM) characteristic of the targeted tissue. Cells are capable of sensing characteristics such as patterned (bio)chemical, topographical and mechanical cues over their microenvironment. Thus, under the form follows function approach, the field has been largely focused on the development of sophisticated hierarchical scaffolds that can replicate the cues present on the native environment from the molecular to the macroscopic scale.
The low practicality of this approach and the difficulties to translate the generated scaffolds to clinical environments have pushed the field to slowly shift to other approaches based on the stimulation of cells mimicking their function in the body. The function follows form approach is centred on the application of mechanical, sonic, magnetic, electrical or chemical stimuli to biomaterial scaffolds that is then translated to cells.
We will review these two concepts highlighting a series of combined scaffold biofabrication approaches (3D printing, electrospinning, self-assembly, etc) that lead to the fine control of the cell microenvironment, as well as the development of smart materials responsive to external sonic and magnetic fields and their implication in tissue regeneration.
Dr. Camarero-Espinosa was educated at the University of the Basque Country (Spain) where she obtained her BSc. degree as Chemical Engineer and M.Sc. in Engineering of Advanced Materials. She moved to develop her doctoral studies at the Adolphe Merkle Institute (Fribourg, Switzerland). She obtained her PhD degree in 2015 in Polymer Chemistry and Bioengineering and was recognized with an award for an outstanding PhD thesis by the Swiss Chemical Society. After gaining an early post-doctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation, in 2015 she moved to Brisbane (Australia) to work at the AIBN Institute (Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland) where she continued her research in instructive biomaterial scaffolds and their interaction with stem cells. She then joined in 2017 the MERLN institute at Maastricht University (The Netherlands) where she focused her studies on the fabrication of 3D printed scaffolds for the regeneration of complex tissues.
In 2020 Sandra joined the POLYMAT institute as an Ikerbasque Research Fellow and Marie Sklowdoska-Curie fellow to develop her research in stimuli-responsive scaffolds. In 2021 she established the BioSmarTE Lab that focuses on the regeneration of complex tissues through the design of smart implantable scaffolds. This passes through the functionalization of biomaterials, the exploitation of biofabrication techniques such as 3D (bio)printing, the design of stimuli responsive systems, the understanding of stem cell processes and their interactions with biomaterials, and the design of cellular models of disease.