Tissue engineering research uses sugarcane byproducts

Denise Attaway, Aita, Giovanna

News Release Distributed 10/14/15

ST. GABRIEL, La. – Louisiana sugar producers may one day have a new market for their crops.

LSU AgCenter researchers at the Audubon Sugar Institute are continuing a tissue engineering study that began as a dissertation study by former graduate student Akanksha Kanitkar. The study involves making skin and bone tissue scaffolds from aconitic acid, cinnamic acid and glycerol – all byproducts of sugarcane processing.

According to Giovanna Aita, an associate professor at Audubon who directed Kanitkar’s work, the study involves creating nontoxic, biodegradable polyesters from molasses and bagasse.

“This would be not only profitable for the sugarcane industry as a means of value addition by the use of its byproducts, but it also unfolds a path for generating novel biomaterials for tissue engineering applications,” Aita said.

Scaffolds are structures made from the polyesters that scientists use to create new tissues. The scientists are studying how to develop different compositions of polyesters from sugarcane processing byproducts for use in developing skin and bone scaffolds.

“We are studying the polyesters for their mechanical properties and porosity, as well as their ability to support stem cell growth,” Aita said.

Scaffolds made from these polyesters degrade at a rate that is favorable in allowing for new skin to be generated. This knowledge could be used for creating skin tissue to use in wound repair.

“An ideal scaffold should have the rate of degradation similar to the timeframe in which the new tissue forms,” Aita said. “For skin tissue engineering this timeframe is typically two weeks.”

During the study, some polyesters were found to be structurally intact for more than two weeks. This discovery led the way to using the polyesters to make scaffolds to create bone tissue, which takes longer than two weeks. The scaffolds were seeded with stem cells to make bone tissue. Bone tissue was forming after 21 days, indicating the scaffolds can be used for bone tissue engineering as well, Aita said.

Polyesters used in this study were developed from materials that were commercially purchased, but these materials can be extracted from sugarcane byproducts.

This research was done in test tubes. For these polymers to find clinical applications, animal studies need to be performed, Aita said.

“The effects of these scaffolds in animal model wound healing and bone formation could be studied to know the performance of these polyesters under actual physiological conditions,” she said.

While this is a great start, Aita cautioned, more research is needed before using these polyesters to grow bones and tissues for humans.

Denise Attaway

10/15/2015 12:54:50 AM
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