Protein adsorption on surfaces occurs shortly after scaffold insertion. This process is of pivotal importance to achieve therapeutic success in tissue engineering (TE), and favorable proteins should be adsorbed at the interface without unfolding to preserve their structure and function. Protein misfolding at the interface is a common phenomenon, which can impair cell adhesion and scaffold colonization. Many efforts have been done to improve scaffold biocompatibility by ameliorating protein adsorption, but with poor results. In the present chapter, we propose the use of a novel class of molecules, aptamers, to improve scaffold biocompatibility. Aptamers are small, single stranded oligonucleotides, which specifically bind to a target molecule: they work as antibodies, but without many of the drawbacks associated to the use of antibodies. We propose to immobilize aptamers on scaffolds to retain specific proteins, acting as docking points to guide cell activity. In particular, we show the results obtained by enriching different polymeric scaffolds with aptamers against human fibronectin, a naturally abundant protein in tissues, which plays a pivotal role in cell adhesion. We demonstrate that scaffold enrichment with aptamers lead to a better colonization of the substrate from cells. The results we obtained pave the way to the possibility of further investigating the role of aptamers as useful molecules to improve scaffold biocompatibility in the contest of tissue engineering.
Part of the book: Advanced Techniques in Bone Regeneration