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On the path to long-lasting implants with Matrix Evolution

On the path to long-lasting implants with Matrix Evolution

Press release from
© Sören Pinsdorf/LUH

Alliance of scientists from Leibniz University Hannover and the Hannover Medical School receives 1.5 million euros in research funding.

People are increasingly living to an older age. This is among the reasons why regenerative therapies and long-lasting implants are gaining importance. In order to avoid complications such as inflammation or infection, a better understanding of tissue structures and the usability of biomaterials is required. Matrix Evolution, an interdisciplinary alliance of researchers from different fields at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) and the Hannover Medical School (MHH), aims to help ensure that in future more-complex biomaterials are developed and can then be utilised in regenerative medicine and implant research in particular. The Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK) is providing funding of approximately 1.5 million euros for the project.

Biomaterials, such as implants or other structures that are implanted in the body, play a central role in replacing tissue or organs that have been lost. The biophysical and biochemical characteristics of materials create specific cellular milieus, which significantly influence cell behaviour and function. A wide range of natural and synthetic materials are currently being used or studied for application in the area of regenerative medicine (e.g. tissue engineering) and implant research. Although these biomaterials already fulfil important requirements such as biocompatibility, biodegradability or mechanical stability, they are ultimately often highly simplified copies of the extracellular matrix (ECM).

The ECM is the substance in which the cells in natural tissue are embedded. It has a complex and hierarchical structure which plays a significant role in determining tissue characteristics and functions. It is also highly dynamic and is transformed and adapted in physiological processes. The materials used today in regenerative medicine and implant research fall far short of the complexity of the natural matrix they are intended to replace, which considerably limits their functionality. This is why biomaterials that imitate the natural matrix’s hierarchical structure, complexity and dynamics and thus enable the development of defined, bioresponsive architectures in the lab, from the nano level to the 3D macro level, are urgently needed. New, bio-inspired matrix molecules and materials could lead to an evolution of the matrix in tissue modelling, with significant benefits for all areas of regenerative medicine and clinical research.

To achieve this goal, the project incorporates a broad spectrum of activities including research on the ECM structure, the production of ECM building blocks, the refinement of the structures, the monitoring of cell behaviour, in silico modelling, and application in the medical area. The team of project managers from the disciplines cell biology/biophysics, technical chemistry, polymer chemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics and dentistry/microbiology is excellently qualified for this interdisciplinary approach. Within the Matrix Evolution initiative, six groups will study the topic from different perspectives in a closely interlinked way. The alliance’s findings will initially be used for implant research and are intended to contribute over the long term to the evolution of the matrices used in regenerative medicine. Alongside the research collaboration, the participating researchers, together with other research alliances located at the university such as the SIIRI collaborative research centre, also want to establish a network for women in science in Lower Saxony. The network’s official launch is planned for fall 2024.

Project managers:

  1. Prof. Dr. Cornelia Lee-Thedieck, Leibniz University Hannover (LUH), Institute of Cell Biology and Biophysics, MatrixNische, Coordination
  2. Prof. Dr. Sophia Rudorf, LUH, Institute of Cell Biology and Biophysics, MatrixModel
  3. Prof. Dr. Marie Weinhart, LUH, Institute of Physical Chemistry, MatrixBlocks
  4. Prof. Dr. Selin Kara and Dr. Iliyana Pepelanova, LUH, Institute of Technical Chemistry, MatrixSynBio
  5. Dr. Antonina Lavrentieva, LUH, Institute of Technical Chemistry, Matrix Sense
  6. Prof. Dr. Meike Stiesch and Dr. Carina Mikolai, Hannover Medical School (MHH), Clinic for Dental Prosthetics and Biomedical Materials Science, MatrixImplant


Note to editors:

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Cornelia Lee-Thedieck, Institute of Cell Biology and Biophysics at Leibniz University Hannover (tel. +49 511 762 14972, email: lee-thedieck@cell.uni-hannover.de).