Research Topics

Overview of research topics

(please scroll down for more information on each topic)

Colloidal self-healing biomaterials
Regenerative dentistry
Cell-cell interactions & Osteoinduction
Nanomaterials for tissue regeneration
3D-printing & Clinical translation

Colloidal self-healing biomaterials

Sander Leeuwenburgh

Colloidal materials are composed of sub-micron particles as colloidal building blocks. This bottom-up assembly of colloidal materials offers substantially more control over their functional properties than traditional monolithic bulk materials. These materials are both porous and highly self-healing due to their tunable self-assembly from submicron particles. These interparticle interactions are non-covalent, which renders these materials dynamic and stimulus-responsive.

At the Regenerative Biomaterials group, novel colloidal biomaterials are self-assembled from biocompatible building blocks to enable effective treatment of defects in both healthy and diseased bone. To this end, a toolbox of both organic and inorganic nanoparticles is used to design porous and self-healing biomaterials which allow for intracellular delivery of therapeutic agents such as antibacterial and anticancer drugs. Fundamental cell-material interactions are studied at both molecular, cellular and tissue level using state of the art spectroscopic and imaging techniques to maximize the regenerative capacity of these innovative biomaterials.

Regenerative dentistry

Frank Walboomers

Regenerative medicine typically follows a multidisciplinary approach (e.g. a combination of biology, materials science, imaging), to focus on therapeutic strategies for the regeneration of lost and damaged tissues. At the Regenerative Biomaterials group, we specifically aim at the development of regenerative strategies for the therapy of lost teeth, and their surrounding tissues (dentin, enamel, periodontal ligament, bone, dental pulp). A wide array of approaches is employed, based on either modulating biomaterial (surface) properties with nanopatterns,  as well as the in-depth study toward specific stimulation of precursor (stem) cells from the oral environment, including bone, dentin, enamel, and periodontal ligament cells.

Cell-cell interactions & Osteoinduction

Jeroen van den Beucken

Cell-cell interactions are instrumental in tissue formation. Particularly, the nature of interactions between cell types from different systems, e.g. immune, skeletal, and circulation system, are important toward tissue formation. By studying the cellular behaviour in dedicated co-culture models, mechanistic principles of tissue formation can be revealed.

At the Regenerative Biomaterials group, cell-cell and cell-material interactions are studied in an attempt to understand how this leads to tissue formation. In addition to in vitro cell culture models, in vivo implantation studies are used to monitor participation of different cell types in tissue formation in a biological environment. With state-of-the-art cell culture, histological and immunohistochemical techniques, we have shown the catabolic role of osteoclasts as stimulators of osteogenic differentiation of adult stem cells as well as their role as initiators of osteoinductive processes that lead to de novo bone formation.

Nanomaterials for dental tissue regeneration

Fang Yang

Periodontal diseases, including periodontitis and peri-implantitis, are oral infections associated with inflammation-mediated loss of the periodontal ligament and supporting alveolar bone, which finally results in tooth/implant loss. The current treatment strategies are not efficient and do not lead to the regeneration of the lost periodontal tissues.

At the Regenerative Biomaterials group, we aim at the development of regenerative therapy for periodontal and peri-implant diseases using nanomaterial-based regenerative approaches. Thanks to the biomimetic features and unique physiochemical properties, nanomaterials, including nanofibers and nanoparticles, are of vital importance in promoting cell growth and stimulating tissue regeneration. Additionally, nanomaterials can also be used as a delivery system to carry bioactive agents. Apart from our interests in designing smart nanostructured biomaterials as scaffolds or drug carriers to maximize the self-healing capacity of bone and periodontal tissues, we are also interested in exploring the underlying mechanisms of cell-biomaterial interactions in the oral context.

3D-printing & Clinical translation

Bart van Oirschot

3D printing can be employed to create personalized (single patient-oriented) medical devices. By using a high-resolution imaging tool, such as CBCT (cone beam CT) or intra- oral scanning, we can create a 3D image of the patient and fabricate and test 3D printed structures to replace teeth, or bony structures. These medical devices can be subsequently sterilized (e.g. autoclaved) or loaded (functionalized) in a sterile environment prior to implantation, exploiting an easy and gentle surgical procedure.

At the Regenerative Biomaterials group we focus on a 'clinical translational approach', where clinical problems are translated towards basic research questions and vice versa. We use in vitro and in vivo models and perform clinical trials for the clinical translation of newly developed medical devices and regenerative biomaterials.