Dentistry researcher Dr. Nicholas Makhoul is the reciptient of the Peter Geistlich Research Award from the Osteo Science Foundation for his research project entitled, "Axially Vascularized 3D Printed Bone Flaps." Named in memory of Dr. Peter Geistlich, founder of Osteo Science Foundation and former President and Chairman of Geistlich Pharma, this award is the keystone research program of Osteo Science Foundation, and remains the most competitive funding opportunity.
In his researhc project, Dr. Makhoul is exploring promising alternatives to the currently used methods of bone repair. The predominant methods of bone reconstruction of critical-sized maxillofacial defects is the trasnfer of vascularized bone flaps. Yet this method is limiting for a number of reasons. Bone tissue engineering is a promising alternative to this method; in this research project, Dr. Makhoul aims to use innovative bone repair methods by using emerging technologies such as 3D printing to grow new bone and effectively transplant engineered tissue.
The current gold standard for the reconstruction of critical-sized maxillofacial defects is the transfer of vascularized bone flaps. These flaps have significant limitations including donor site morbidity and compromised masticatory function. Bone tissue engineering presents a promising alternative. However, tissue engineered constructs have thus far failed to make a significant clinical translation, largely due to a lack of robust strategies to generate patent vascularization. In order to generate vessels large enough to perfuse clinically relevant scaffolds, two techniques exist: vessel grafting or collateralization. Much of what is known regarding collateralization is related to ischemic cardiac and brain injuries, where the occlusion of large vessels leads to the expansion of vestigial collateral vessels. Bone regeneration of segmental bone defects has not yet implemented this knowledge. Thus far, only the arteriovenous (AV) loop model has displayed the necessary pro-angiogenic properties to repair critical-sized defects. The aim of this study is to optimize vascularization of bioceramic scaffolds, grow new bone around these scaffolds and transplant this newly tissue engineered construct to repair a bone defect.