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Research Profile

The demographic trends in Germany and other industrialized nations result in a considerable increase in patients with bone defects and chronic wounds. This requires the development of novel functional biomaterials, which improve bone and skin regeneration in an aging, multimorbid population.  New knowledge about the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) for the regeneration of tissues opens new opportunities for the design of innovative biomaterials. The structure and composition of ECM significantly influences cellular differentiation and function and the healing of tissues. The aim of the TRR 67 is to develop and investigate novel functional biomaterials based on artificial (a) ECM. Essential functional components of these materials are glycosaminoglycan derivatives and proteoglycan analogues in combination with structural proteins or synthetic carrier substances.

In the current second funding period of the TRR 67, we demonstrated that certain aECM -based biomaterials facilitate healing processes in bone and skin; moreover the underlying molecular mechanisms could be identified. In the third funding period, the objective will be taken to a more complex level, by endowing the biomaterials with several functionalities in order to adapt them to the specific requirements of the different phases of regeneration in bone and skin. For example, biomaterials will be designed which combine anti-inflammatory, wound healing promoting with antibacterial or good adhesive properties. Furthermore, we shall investigate the molecular mechanisms by which these multifunctional biomaterials influence regenerative processes within tissues. In order to strengthen the translational aspect, the multifunctional aECM-based biomaterials will be incorporated in implant coatings,  wound dressings, or as carrier systems for cell therapeutics, and evaluated in relevant preclinical models with impaired bone or skin regeneration. Subsequently a validation on cell or tissue samples from patients with restricted bone or skin regeneration is planned; however we do not apply for funding of clinical studies at this stage. The long-term goal is to individualize the aECM-based biomaterials for certain patient populations (e.g. osteoporosis, diabetes).

The TRR 67 is divided into two research areas:

The Research Area A – Matrix Engineering – comprises the predominantly material science-/chemistry-oriented subprojects including associated more analytical subprojects.

The Research Area B – Biological active profiles in cells systems and aECM-backed tissue regeneration – combine projects with cell biological and clinical orientation. The main focus here is the systematic cell and molecular biological characterisation of matrix/cell interactions in complex systems. We investigate mainly cell types that have intensive matrix contacts in skin and bones.

The Research Area T – Transfer supports the translation, by development of prototypes and clinical testing.

The Integrated Research Training Group „Matrix Engineering“ adds training and skilling components for the doctoral students that work within the TRR 67. The offered modules shall prepare the doctoral students for their later independent scientific work and at the same time help to better connect the subprojects methodically. The IRTG is integrated in the umbrella organization of the graduate schools in Leipzig: the Research Academy Leipzig (RA Leipzig).