Cancer patients and wounded soldiers are just two examples of patients who must undergo surgeries to repair damaged — or missing — soft tissues. These tissues, which include skin, fat, and muscle, are critical to the body’s shape and function. Current reconstructive surgery procedures involve harvesting tissue from one part of the body to replace what is missing. But these surgeries can result in complications, and the use of current synthetic tissue products can cause inflammation and scarring. LifeSprout TRM intends to supplement or replace these options with an off-the-shelf solution that immediately replaces missing volume while encouraging tissue ingrowth over time.
LifeSprout TRM is an injectable, biodegradable composite of nanofibers suspended in and linked to a hydrogel network. When injected into an area of a tissue defect, the TRM provides a three-dimensional framework that promotes the ingrowth of host cells, leading to lasting restoration after the nanofibers and hydrogel have slowly disintegrated. “The material we chose is critical,” says Hai-Quan Mao, a professor of materials science and engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. “The polymers used to prepare nanofibers are the same as those used in surgical sutures, and the hydrogel has been used in a popular dermal filler — so there’s a long track record of tissue compatibility and clinical use of these materials.”