Nanostructured 3-D collagen/nanotube biocomposites for future bone regeneration scaffolds
The field of bionanotechnology has been rapidly growing during the last few years and we can now envision a controllable integration between biological and artificial matter, where new biomimetic structures with a wide range of chemical and physical properties will promote the development of a novel generation of medical devices. In this work we describe a collagen/carbon nanotube composite which has the potential to be used as a scaffold for tissue regeneration. Because this biocomposite incorporates the advantageous properties of both collagen and carbon nanotubes, it has most of the characteristics that an ideal biomaterial requires in order to be used as an osteoinductive agent. This biocomposite is bioresorbable and biodegradable and has the desired mechanical rigidity while maintaining a three-dimensional(3-D) nanostructured surface. Tuned stability and swelling were achieved under fluid environments by varying the amount of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) incorporated into the composite. These variations can dictate the degree of interaction between fibroblastic cells and the biomaterials. Proof-of-concept was shown by performing an in vitro induced mineralization of hydroxylapatite crystals under physiological conditions. Furthermore, the ability to attach biofunctional groups to the CNT walls can open a new road for tissue regeneration since the combination of CNTs with specific growth factors or cellular ligands can create an environment capable of signaling and influencing specific cell functions. Our observations suggest that collagen/carbon nanotube biocomposites will have important uses in a wide range of biotechnological areas.