Tissue Engineering

The scarcity of quantitative, non-destructive assessment techniques for engineered tissues presents a critical bottleneck in the field of regenerative medicine. Conventional biochemical and mechanical tests are often time-consuming, costly, and damaging to structure and function of the sample under test, thereby reducing the available tissue for subsequent implantation. Non-destructive measurement techniques have the potential to lower costs and increase sample throughput, whilst providing an opportunity for a better understanding of sample maturation via repeated, longitudinal measurements. Optical and acoustic imaging techniques can perform fast, non-contact measurements on a range of engineered tissues, providing vital feedback on the progress of the sample maturation. In this project, we employ custom multimodal imaging systems to monitor the development of cartilage, bone and vascular engineered tissues. Specifically, we use our fiber coupled fluorescence lifetime imaging system to map the spatial distribution of endogenous fluorophores e,g, structural proteins (collagen, elastin and aggrecan) or cellular coenzymes (NADH and FAD) across the sample surface. In parallel, we operate a high frequency ultrasound system to generate high resolution, depth resolved images of the sample structure. Data from both modalities is correlated against conventional mechanical and biochemical assays to calibrate the imaging results in terms of parameters used in the tissue engineering field. The global aim of our work in this area is to develop bespoke imaging systems that can non-destructively extract meaningful quantitative data that can be used to determine release criteria and long term viability of engineered tissues.  

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