Marta Roldo Lab
Researching novel biomaterials for drug delivery and tissue regeneration
Our current laboratory research
Composite materials for bone regeneration applications
Tissue engineering, or tissue regeneration, is possible thanks to the development of numerous biomaterials that act as support for the attachment and proliferation of cells able to regenerate the damaged tissue.
In the case of bone regeneration, hydroxyapatite (HA) is one of the most used materials due to its similarity to the main component of human bone. However, the mechanical properties of pure HA are not sufficiently high for its use in vivo, and composites of various types have been prepared to improve its performance.
Our group is looking at the use of composites of HA, chitosan derivatives and carbon nanotubes to improve the biocompatibility, strength and drug delivery properties of bone implants. We have demonstrated that the use of chitosan derivatives in the formulation of composite materials is able to control the kinetics of drug release depending on the molecular weight of the active drug.
We also showed how carbon nanotubes can be used to control the mechanical properties of temperature-sensitive hydrogels and how the addition of silver nanowires enhances the antibacterial properties of the materials also against resistant nosocomial bacterial infections (MRSA). We are currently working on novel bone cement and implant coating with enhanced antimicrobial properties.
Soft hydrogels for cartilage regeneration
Osteochondral defects are lesions that involve both the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone. Trauma associated osteochondral injuries frequently occur in active young patients and if left untreated will lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Due to its avascular nature, the poor diffusion of nutrients and the lack of abundant progenitor cells, cartilage has a limited ability to self-repair.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold great promise for the treatment of cartilage related injuries. However, selectively promoting stem cell differentiation in vivo is still challenging. We are developing soft gels that can support production of cartilage by MSCs and are exploring the use of donor cells for the development of an off-the-shelf treatment for osteochondral defects.
We are employing similar gels as coatings for titanium implants able to control the release of antibacterial agents to reduce implants associated infections. This work is carried out in collaboration with industrial partners.
We have developed novel chitosan derivatives with enhanced antibacterial activity and the ability to protect teeth from demineralisation. These novel polymers have been formulated into mouthwashes and current research is focused on developing other types of oral health products.
We also have an interest in elucidating the mechanism of action and effects of oral hygiene products on dentures and teeth, exploring visualisation methods that will enable demonstrating the science behind these products to the consumer. This work is supported by our industrial collaborator Haleon.