Zhou Yu, Hong Kong
Zhou studied in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, China, and obtained her Bachelor's degree in 2013. She joined Prof Min Wang's group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in September 2013 to start her PhD in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering. At HKU, she has been conducting investigations into using advanced nanofibrous scaffolds for making human body tissues. She is particularly interested in developing cell and growth factor-incorporated scaffolds for the regeneration of complex body tissues or organs. She has made oral presentations of her research work at several international conferences and recently received the Best Young Scientist Award at the 5th China-Europe Symposium on Biomaterials in Regenerative Medicine.
Making human body tissues: Making the miracle
When traditional medical treatments for human tissue loss, using synthetic materials to substitute diseased or traumatised tissues, have encountered insurmountable problems, tissue engineering comes to their rescue. Tissue engineering is 'the development of biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function'. Human body tissues consist of living cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) while ECM is nanofibrous in nature. Electrospinning is an advanced technique for fabricating nanofibrous tissue engineering scaffolds which can resemble the ECM structure. We have developed a distinctive technology for fabricating biological tissues by using concurrent electrospinning and cell electrospray. Through this technology, live cells were encapsulated in core-shell structured biodegradable polymer microspheres which were placed randomly in three-dimensional nanofibrous biodegradable polymer scaffolds. Live cells could be released into scaffolds through microspheres degradation. Furthermore, growth factors incorporated in the electrospun nanofibres of the scaffolds could be released, which stimulated cells to grow, forming new body tissue.