Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering

Collaborative Specialization

Musculoskeletal Health Research


Price, Aaron D.


Articular cartilage tissue has limited capacity for self-regeneration leading to challenges in the treatment of joint injuries and diseases such as osteoarthritis. The tissue engineering approach combines biomaterials, cells and bioactive molecules to provide a long-term and stable cartilage repair. In the following work, electroactive polymer polypyrrole~(PPy) was incorporated into the synthetic hydrogel to enhance the mechanical properties of the material for cartilage applications. PPy was loaded with drug compound and the \emph{on demand} drug release was demonstrated. The composite PPy hydrogel was 3D printed using stereolithography to create a porous tissue engineering scaffold. Biocompatibility and cell adhesion to the material were investigated to ensure their applicability in cartilage regenerative applications. Fabricated composite polymers were successful as potential biomaterials for cartilage tissue engineering scaffolds.

Summary for Lay Audience

Cartilage tissue repair presents a significant challenge for clinicians and scientists. In healthy joints, cartilage acts as a protective layer covering the bone surface and helps mitigate the high mechanical load joints in the human body are exposed to daily. When cartilage tissue breaks down due to inflammation or injury to the joint, the bone surface is left unprotected, leading to high pain levels, and a decrease in the range of motion ultimately leading to disability. Due to the absence of direct blood supply, cartilage has a very limited capacity for self-regeneration. Tissue engineering is a promising approach that can induce and support cartilage repair. It combines biomaterials providing structural replacement at the site of the defect, cells responsible for the formation of new tissue, and bioactive molecules that turn on or off certain cell activities or metabolic processes in the surrounding tissues. Hydrogel biomaterials have been recognized as being structurally similar to cartilage tissue, however, they have to be paired with a second polymer for improved functionality. Polypyrrole is a smart polymer that can store medicinal compounds and release them on demand, making it an attractive material for biomedical applications. Hydrogel/polypyrrole composite materials were produced in this study for potential use in cartilage tissue engineering. These materials were not toxic to cartilaginous cells and even supported their attachment to the surface. To ensure the functionality of the material, it was tested for drug delivery capabilities. Moreover, the porous hydrogel/polypyrrole structure was 3D printed and can be investigated for use in tissue engineering scaffolds.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.