Active ingredient depots in porous fibers - new materials for regenerative medicine

Drug delivery systems are becoming increasingly important in medicine and can be used not only in conventional medicine, but above all in the innovative field of regenerative medicine. Pharmaceutical agents can usually only be used in relatively small doses due to their side effects. For this reason, efficient drug delivery systems are increasingly being used to release the active ingredients in a targeted and controlled manner at the desired site of application. The development of application systems that achieve improved therapeutic effects while increasing therapeutic safety and avoiding undesirable side effects is therefore the subject of numerous research projects. In one research project, for example, the DITF's Biomedical Engineering and Nonwoven Technology departments have developed fibers that can be used for a local, targeted release of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Porous fibers for the therapy of chronic wounds

A common case in regenerative medicine is chronic wounds, which are a considerable hindrance to patients and pose a major challenge to medical practitioners and the healthcare system. Fibers loaded with growth factors, when used in wound dressings, could support the therapy of chronic wounds. Growth factors are body's own proteins that exchange signals between cells and thus also play an important role in wound healing.

"We wanted to integrate drug depots into the fibers to enable the growth factors to be released directly into the wound bed," explains Prof. Dr. Michael Doser, head of the Biomedical Engineering Research Group. Growth factors are sensitive proteins that are broken down from the wound secretion by certain proteases, so-called MMPs.

The fibers developed at the DITF are based on a compound of a water-insoluble and a water-soluble polymer. Due to the washing out of the water-soluble part, the fibers have finely distributed, interconnected pores. The filling of the pores with the active ingredient is carried out by a filling process supported by negative pressure. "The growth factors are incorporated into a hydrogel to increase their shelf life and control their release," explains Dr.-Ing. Andreas Scherrieble, who headed the project.

Proven effect in in vitro tests

Knitted fabric made of yarn of porous fibres. Illustration: DITF

For in vitro testing, knitted fabrics made from yarns of the porous fibers were provided with the growth factor VEGF, which plays a significant role in the wound healing process. In series of measurements at the project partner, the Clinic for Oral and Maxillofacial Plastic Surgery of the University Hospital Frankfurt, these functional patterns showed a clearly angiogenic, i.e. vascularizing effect and can thus make an important contribution to the treatment of the widespread disease "chronic wound".

In addition to medical applications, fibers loaded with relevant substances are also suitable for wellness, sports and leisure applications.

The development of the drug-delivery fibers was supported by the AiF within the framework of the program for the promotion of industrial joint research and development (IGF) by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) based on a resolution of the German Bundestag.


Link to the article in 'Tissue Engineering'



    Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Michael Doser

    Deputy Member of Executive Board
    Deputy Head of Technology Center Biomedical Engineering

    T +49 (0)711 93 40-263