In recent years, interest in tissue engineering and its solutions has increased considerably. In particular, scaffolds have become fundamental tools in bone graft substitution and are used in combination with a variety of bio-agents. However, a long-standing problem in the use of these conventional scaffolds lies in the impossibility of re-loading the scaffold with the bio-agents after implantation. This work introduces the magnetic scaffold as a conceptually new solution. The magnetic scaffold is able, via magnetic driving, to attract and take up in vivo growth factors, stem cells or other bio-agents bound to magnetic particles. The authors succeeded in developing a simple and inexpensive technique able to transform standard commercial scaffolds made of hydroxyapatite and collagen in magnetic scaffolds. This innovative process involves dip-coating of the scaffolds in aqueous ferrofluids containing iron oxide nanoparticles coated with various biopolymers. After dip-coating, the nanoparticles are integrated into the structure of the scaffolds, providing the latter with magnetization values as high as 15 emu g-1 at 10 kOe. These values are suitable for generating magnetic gradients, enabling magnetic guiding in the vicinity and inside the scaffold. The magnetic scaffolds do not suffer from any structural damage during the process, maintaining their specific porosity and shape. Moreover, they do not release magnetic particles under a constant flow of simulated body fluids over a period of 8 days. Finally, preliminary studies indicate the ability of the magnetic scaffolds to support adhesion and proliferation of human bone marrow stem cells in vitro. Hence, this new type of scaffold is a valuable candidate for tissue engineering applications, featuring a novel magnetic guiding option. © 2009 Acta Materialia Inc.
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