Research theme Reconstructive and regenerative medicine


Reconstructive and regenerative medicine About theme

Our aim is to strengthen the already existing synergy between the participating laboratories by stimulating interaction between clinicians, basic scientists and private partners in the Nijmegen area. We seek to develop therapies that will improve the quality of healthcare.

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Reconstructive and regenerative medicine About theme

This theme focuses on the development and clinical translation of innovative diagnosis and therapies, including regenerative medicine and nano-medicine, for personalized care and cure of patients needing reconstructions of lost or damaged tissues. This will be achieved by transdisciplinary research by leading research groups in the fields of medicine, dentistry, biochemistry, chemistry, biology and materials science.
 
Reconstructive and Regenerative Medicine (RRM) is a center of excellence combining unique expertise present at the Radboudumc in the fields of cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, biomaterials, chemistry, transplantation biology and clinical research. It is the leading research center in regenerative medicine in the Netherlands. The RRM bridges the bench-to-bedside gap by unifying a large number of renowned research groups focusing both on basic science and on clinical translation (such as tissue engineering, biomaterials and stem cell therapy). To this end, RRM participates in numerous leading national and international research programs funded by Dutch, European or American funding agencies.

Objectives

  • We will investigate clinical applications for musculoskeletal diseases.
  • We will investigate applications for kidney diseases.
  • We are investigating applications for the urogenital tract.
  • We are looking for applications for skin diseases.
  • We are investigating reconstructive surgical procedures and TERM applications.

Theme leader

Wout Feitz MD PhD
+31 (0)24 361 37 35
full professor

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Lines of research



Kidney artificial

Reconstructive and regenerative medicine


  • An additional line of research on renal regeneration focuses on development of living membranes for an intradialytic biological kidney support device. End-stage renal disease patients have uremic complications that result in high cardiovascular morbidity and a poor quality of life, despite hemodialysis. Uremia is caused by the retention of a large group of molecules with different physical and chemical properties that are not sufficiently cleared by hemodialysis. Within RRM, a cell device (BioKid) will be developed capable of effective clearance of these toxins ex vivo. The BioKid will comprise of multiple so-called living membranes, i.e. tight monolayers of human renal epithelial cells that are grown on newly designed semi-permeable bioactive polymer membranes. A unique supramolecular approach will be used to develop a 2D bioactive polymer membrane that regulates long-lived monolayer integrity and cell viability under uremic conditions. The expertise and knowledge gained on the supramolecular 2D bioactive polymer membrane will be translated into a 3D configuration that will be applied in a simple in vitro set-up as a cell-aided intradialytic uremic toxin removal device. This will serve as a proof of principle for a more sophisticated device that can be used in the future to treat uremic symptoms in end-stage renal disease patients on dialysis.



Musculoskeletal and regeneration

Reconstructive and regenerative medicine


  • Bone and joint diseases cause more functional limitations in the adult population than any other group of disorders, and represent the most common medical cause for long-term sickness absence in developed countries. As life expectancy increases and degenerative bone diseases become more urgent, a rapidly expanding number of patients will need effective bone regeneration therapies. Regeneration of large bone defects is currently a significant challenge for dental, maxillofacial, trauma and orthopedic surgeons. This problem is further enhanced because the majority of these patients suffer from additional medical problems, (such as osteoporosis, diabetes or cancer) which strongly reduce the regenerative capacity of native bone tissue. Therefore, a next generation of off-the-shelf available bone substitute materials with an equal performance to autologous bone needs to be developed. 

    Various projects within RRM are dedicated to development of such novel materials for bone regeneration which can be processed into various application forms ranging from two-dimensional coatings, surface modifications and membranes to three-dimensional (nano)fibers, micro/nanoparticles, scaffolds, gels and cements. In addition, we investigate their  biological performance both in vitro and in vivo.

    Calcium phosphate bioceramics are currently recognized as the most effective class of bone-substituting materials due to their chemical similarity to bone mineral. Although extensive knowledge is available on the relationship between physicochemical characteristics of CaP ceramics and their biological behavior, the favorable properties of calcium phosphate  ceramics on bone healing are still not explained unambiguously. To unravel this mechanism, we carry out fundamental research on the mechanism of action of calcium phosphate bioceramics.

    In addition, a strong need exists for novel drug release technologies to facilitate local and controlled (co-) delivery of (multiple) biomolecules such as growth factors (to stimulate stem cell homing as well as osteo- and angiogenesis), chemotherapeutics as well as anabolic or anti-catabolic drugs (e.g. small molecules).  Finally, novel coatings and nano/microtextures on top of endosseous implants are being developed within RRM to improve the healing response to bone implants (both oral and orthopedic) in order to comply with the trend towards implant installation under increasingly challenging conditions characterized by e.g. lower bone mineral densities and corresponding reduced anchoring capacity of bone tissues.



Skin tissue and regeneration

Biomaterials for skin replacement are currently being applied on patients with burn wounds, surgical wounds and ulcers. These skin substitutes include both acellular and cellular devices. More research in this area is necessary, however, in order to overcome major problems like contraction and scarring.

Within RRM, tissue-engineered 3D  models are being developed to study the biology of normal and diseased skin. Diseases of interest include psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, wound healing and skin cancer. These models can be used to evaluate anti-inflammatory drugs and wound dressings in vitro, and to study tumor invasion. Our established models involve epidermis that is completely regenerated on de-epidermized dermis, collagen gels or filters.  Currently we are extending our systems to include inflammatory cells (T-lymphocytes, dendritic cells) and cancer cells (melanoma).


Surgery and regenerative medicine

Within the clinical field of surgery, RRMis active in tissue engineering and reconstructive medicine regarding abdominal, vascular, and pediatric surgery. In abdominal surgery focus is on common disturbances of surgical healing and repair mechanisms such as intra-abdominal adhesion formation, anastomotic leak, incisional hernia and chronic inflammation. Core activities is development and testing of biomaterials to prevent intra-abdominal  complications (e.g. adhesion formation, anastomotic healing, incisional hernia). Cooperations exist with several departments within RRM (Dept. of Bio-organic Chemistry) and universities abroad.

In vascular and pediatric surgery the loss or congenital absence of vital tissues is a major clinical problem. The research focuses on the engineering of tissues that are lacking or became lost in patients. Vascular constructs for replacement and bypass surgery and tissue replacement such as bowel, diaphragm and abdominal wall or bladder defects are being designed, developed and tested in several research projects.


Urogenital tissue and regeneration

Within RRM, the research on urogenital tissue regeneration is focused on congenital anomalies of the urogenital tract. The research specializes in urogenital tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of urological defects in children, and pediatric urology outcome research. Within RRM, surgeons and scientists collaborate to provide a positive interaction between clinical and basic research. Ample expertise is present on in vitro cell cultures of urological cell types, bioreactors, surgical techniques, small and large animal models to study the potential of urological tissue engineering and regenerative medicine solutions, clinical trials, ethical aspects and an urological biobank. Within RRM, very close collaborations have been built with the Departments of Biochemistry, Pediatric Surgery, Gynaecology, Pre-clinical research (SYRCLE) and Ethics.

Research focus areas include
  • i) acellular urogenital tissue engineering
  • ii) biopolymer reinforced collagen constructs
  • iii) biomolecules and growth factor effects
  • iv) cell-seeded constructs for urological reconstructions
  • v) urinary diversions using biological materials
  • vi) bladder and urethra reconstructions, and vii) cell therapy for urinary incontinence

Affiliated institutes and centers


Technology center 3D Lab

The focus in the 3D Lab is how we can use 3D technologies to improve care for each individual patient. These new technologies help improve the care and the treatment plan of patients, while taking their specific individual needs and wishes into consideration.

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Technology center Stem cells

The Radboudumc Technology Center for Stem Cells provides a state-of-the-art service to reprogram skin-derived fibroblasts into iPSCs.

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Our investigators


Answers in Dutch

Information on our research can also be found in Dutch on the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda website. The information here answers questions asked by Dutch citizens.

Nationale Wetenschapsagenda
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