Modelling oxygen diffusion and cell growth in a porous, vascularising scaffold for soft tissue engineering applications
Soft tissue engineering presents significant challenges compared to other tissue engineering disciplines such as bone, cartilage or skin engineering. The very high cell density in most soft tissues, often combined with large implant dimensions, means that the supply of oxygen is a critical factor in the success or failure of a soft tissue scaffold. A model is presented for oxygen diffusion in a 15-60 mm diameter dome-shaped scaffold fed by a blood vessel loop at its base. This model incorporates simple models for vascular growth, cell migration and the effect of cell density on the effective oxygen diffusivity. The model shows that the dynamic, homogeneous cell seeding method often employed in small-scale applications is not applicable in the case of larger scale scaffolds such as these. Instead, we propose the implantation of a small biopsy of tissue close to a blood supply within the scaffold as a technique more likely to be successful.