The importance of elastin and its role in auricular cartilage tissue engineering
Cartilage regeneration remains a challenge in the field of regenerative medicine. Advances in cartilage regeneration would greatly benefit patients requiring reconstructive surgeries as a result of injury or congenital deformities. Injury can be of the form of trauma or congenital deformities such as microtia, where afflicted children are born with a deformed ear and consequently often experience self-confidence and other psychological issues. Prevalence rates vary among regions but may be as high as 17.4 per 10,000 births. Current treatments for people with this condition are inadequate, with patients requiring multi-stage surgeries or expensive synthetic replacements. There is promise that damaged or missing elastic cartilage could be replaced using biofabrication techniques and technologies. Biofabrication employs cell-laden, tissue compatible and biodegradable scaffolds to then be transplanted into a patient and regenerate the naturally missing tissue that conforms to the defect. Elastin is a highly insoluble structural protein and is found in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of elastic tissues; where it provides the tissues with their elasticity. There is currently no reported literature of direct investigation of the functional role of elastin fibres in auricular cartilage. This review will therefore explore the potential of regenerating auricular cartilage using 3D techniques and technologies with the goal to incorporate or facilitate the production of the elastin content of native cartilage.
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Australian National Fabrication Facility