The InjecTE project aims to develop and test injectable biomaterials that can lead the body's own stem cells to repopulate, differentiate, and replace lost tooth tissue. This project proposes a tissue and nanotechnology approach to provide endodontic and periodontal tissue regeneration, thus overcoming current therapeutic limitations. The classic treatment strategies for endo- and perio diseases are to remove / reduce the bacterial component, in order to eliminate inflammation and stop the tissue damage. Such a strategy does not lead to regeneration of lost tooth tissue, which can affect the vitality and longevity of the tooth. Although progress has been made, rebuilding the structure and function of lost dental tissue is a challenge.
Injectable materials offer more benefits than other materials in endodontic and periodontal regeneration, as they can easily infiltrate the tissue space that is empty after root canal or periodontal treatment, can act as a supply system for various cells and therapeutic agents, and can directly reach the diseased site with minimal invasiveness. The optimal material is, in addition to being biocompatible, degradable, but durable enough that the body's own cells have created enough extracellular matrix to take over the task.
In the project, several different compositions of injectable cross-linked nanocomposite biomaterials have been developed and characterized.
For endodontic regeneration, a hydrogel with varying degrees of hyaluronic acid and components that stimulate mineralization is chosen. The effect of the various combinations on pulp cells has been tested with traditional in vitro methods, with simulated body fluid, and in root canals from extracted teeth. Optimal gel solutions for cell growth and mineralization have been identified and are ready for in vivo testing. Characterization of stability / degradation of the material and identification of any additional factors needed to stimulate recruitment of cells and growth of blood vessels / nerves is in progress.
For periodontal regeneration, a bioactive hemostatic cryogel based on platelet lysate (PL) and aldehyde-functionalized cellulose nanocrystals (a-CNC) has been shown to be promising. Periodontal ligament cells were stimulated to differentiate in the osteogenic direction by specific combinations of PL and CNC in vitro. In blood, a tendency to swelling of the cryogel was observed, which is not optimal in a clinical setting. We are currently working on an optimization of the gel with regard to this prior to testing in vivo.
InjecTE is a multidisciplinary project assembling international leading researchers in biomaterials science, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, molecular and cell biology, dentistry, and industrial development of biomaterials and medical devices aiming at developing and testing new advanced biomaterials for periodontal and endodontic regeneration. Such materials would have a huge impact in the dental biomaterials field since they would change current healing therapies to regenerative outcomes. These would render the patients better treatments and higher satisfaction with the dentists. Therefore, if successful, the project outcomes will have an enormous social impact and potential for commercialization.
The project plan comprises the following tasks, to develop and characterize injectable crosslinkable biomaterials; evaluate the differentiation of stem cells and potential to regenerate dental tissues in vitro; study endodontic regeneration and periodontal regeneration in vivo. The project plan also comprises dissemination and communication activities, an efficient project management and a commercialization strategy.
This project is well-timed, fundamental, in the forefront of current international research in this field, and has societal implications. This project is highly interdisciplinary, involving all aspects from basic science to enhance human health and well-being. Each group involves one young talented researcher and international experience for the young researchers is planned.