Ongoing research in Dr. Lu's Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory includes the development of biomimetic polymer-based therapies for a variety of tissue engineering and drug delivery applications.
Dr. Lu and her team are involved in five main research projects:
- Novel biomaterial engineering. The Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Lab develops biocompatible, biodegradable and in situ crosslinkable hydrogels, hydrophobic polymers, polymer blends and composite biomaterials for various applications. The polymeric biomaterials serve as either injectable or preformed scaffolds for tissue growth.
- Advanced scaffold fabrication. Three-dimensional scaffolds fabricated using solid free-form fabrication techniques have controlled internal pore structures and pore interconnectivity, resulting in enhanced cell ingrowth depth. Dr. Lu's lab is designing processes for temporal and spatial incorporation of cells or biomolecules or both into the scaffolds using 3-D bioprinting.
- Noninvasive prediction and treatment of bone fracture. Finite element analysis models based on quantitative computerized tomography scans will be used for noninvasive vertebral body fracture risk prediction under dynamic loading regimes. Preformed, expandable and injectable constructs are being developed for contained and large segmental bone defect repair.
- Functionalized nerve guidance tubes. Using a combinational, biomimetic approach, the Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Lab is developing functionalized and electrically conductive nerve guidance tubes for peripheral nerve regeneration and spinal cord injury.
- Controlled drug delivery. Dr. Lu's laboratory has established microparticle, nanoparticle, microgel, microbubble and composite scaffold systems for controlled delivery of various bioactive molecules, including growth factors, hormones, anti-cancer drugs and antibiotics. Multifunctional carriers for simultaneous targeted delivery of drugs and imaging agents are being developed to allow noninvasive imaging of therapeutic effects.