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Development of a scaffold-on-a-chip platform using calcium phosphate coated-ZrO2 scaffolds obtained by flash sintering

Grant number: 23/15038-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2024
Effective date (End): June 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Engineering - Materials and Metallurgical Engineering - Nonmetallic Materials
Principal Investigator:Eliria Maria de Jesus Agnolon Pallone
Grantee:Fabio Caixeta Nunes
Supervisor: Yu Shrike Zhang
Host Institution: Faculdade de Zootecnia e Engenharia de Alimentos (FZEA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Pirassununga , SP, Brazil
Research place: Harvard University, Boston, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:22/05031-0 - Flash sintering of ZrO2 scaffolds obtained by 3D printing for tissue bioengineering, BP.DR

Abstract

Zirconia (ZrO2) scaffolds are widely used in hard tissue engineering primarily due to their intrinsic properties, such as hardness, wear resistance, and aesthetics. For bone regeneration, the surface of these scaffolds can be modified to improve their surface properties and achieve bioactivity, for instance, using calcium phosphate (CaP) coatings. These coated scaffolds can be combined with microfluidic devices, known as organ-on-a-chip, to create in vitro models that recapitulate the microenvironment of organs and tissues. In this context, this work aims to conduct in vitro tests on ZrO2 scaffolds obtained through extrusion-based 3D printing and conventional sintering, as well as through flash sintering (FS). Furthermore, these scaffolds will be tested using in vitro organ modeling to mimic the physiological environment of bone tissue. In Brazil, we developed a printable ink based on polyethyleneglycol and laponite, to which ZrO2 particles were added. The scaffolds were printed with dimensions of 10x10x5 mm, and the debinding process was performed at 800°C/1h. A portion of the scaffolds was conventionally sintered, while another portion was printed using the FS technique, with an electric field of 80 V/cm. The surfaces of the scaffolds were chemically modified. Now, for this second stage of the work at Harvard Medical School, we aim to conduct several in vitro experiments on the scaffolds to thoroughly investigate their interactions with cells. In addition, experiments involving microfluidic technologies that provide biomimetic tissue culture conditions can be performed to apply and validate organ-on-a-chip technologies in bone research using ZrO2.

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