SMART BIOMATERIALS TOWARDS MINIMALLY INVASIVE BREAST RECONSTRUCTION
The development of biomaterials for adipose regeneration has gained increasing attention as a result of the exponential growth of adipose tissue reconstructions performed in health care. In addition to cosmetic considerations, these reconstructions are also attempted for women undergoing lumpectomies after breast cancer treatment, which is highly relevant as breast cancer is the most prominent cancer striking women worldwide. Recently, an increasing interest has emerged from material engineers to develop materials for adipose tissue engineering and breast reconstruction in particular, addressing the existing limitations. New biomaterial-related approaches should ideally aim for a more predictable outcome, an improved cost-effectiveness and minimal invasiveness. It is exactly there that the current proposal will come into play by combining (1) 3Dprinting to enable patient-specific breast reconstruction paving the way towards esthetically elegant solutions for cancer patients, (2) biodegradable shape memory polymers to replace the currently used invasive, artificial expander, (3) peptide-based hydrogels encapsulating autologous adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells and capable of supporting their viability and differentiation towards adipocytes for injection into the 3D-printed shape memory scaffolds. The project outcome will give rise to a paradigm shift in the clinic towards minimally invasive patient-specific breast reconstruction using biodegradable smart polymers.