LOEWE exploration project for targeted cell differentiation using optimally graded micro lattice structures


Within the joint project “CellDistinct” in the “LOEWE Exploration” funding programme, Prof. Blaeser (IDD/BMT) and Prof. Weeger (CPS) will research the mechanobiological foundations of stem cell differentiation.

Four projects from the TU Darmstadt have been selected for the latest funding round LOEWE Exploration by the Hessian Ministry of Science. This also includes the project “CellDistinct – Targeted cell differentiation through optimally graded micro lattice structures”, in which Professor Andreas Blaeser (BioMedical Printing Technology) and Professor Oliver Weeger (Cyber-Physical Simulation) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering will research the mechanobiological foundations of stem cell differentiation.

It has been known for several years that the mechanical properties of tissues influence the differentiation of stem cells. The scientific proof of this was provided by cultivating cells on so-called hydrogels. In previous studies, however, in order to change the mechanical properties, the biochemical composition of the hydrogels had to be changed at the same time. The interaction of several influencing factors makes it difficult to clearly assign the research results. “CellDistinct”, which is being funded from October 2023 with around 300,000 euros, enables the two mechanisms to be decoupled for the first time. In order to be able to systematically investigate the structure-function relationships of stem cell differentiation, microlattices designed by simulation and produced by 3D bioprinting are generated, which deform the embedded hydrogels in a targeted manner and thus precisely modulate certain aspects of cell growth. On the one hand, the expected research results represent a gain in basic scientific knowledge. On the other hand, they can be transferred to different fields of application, such as the production of patient-specific tissue substitutes or the cultivation of laboratory meat.