Bespoke Collagen Microfiber Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering


In tissue engineering, cells are generally grown on a scaffold that emulates the cellular environment in the body. Together, the scaffold and cells can be implanted in a patient or serve as a testing platform, for example, to evaluate pharmaceuticals and toxicants. We have developed an accessible, low-cost, and automated method of preparing collagen microfibers, organizing the fibers into precisely controlled mesh designs, and embedding the tissues in a bulk hydrogel to create a composite biomaterial suitable for a wide variety of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.

Market Opportunity

Disease, injury, and trauma can lead to damage and degeneration of human tissue. Tissue engineering, regenerates damaged tissues by developing biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function. One strategy of tissue engineering is to re-generate damaged tissues by combining cells from the body with highly porous scaffold biomaterials, which act as templates, guiding the growth of new tissue.

Because cells are extremely sensitive to their environment, the scaffold material must be highly specialized. Though synthetic materials are durable and easy to shape, they lack molecular adhesion sites and appropriate mechanical properties. Natural materials such as collagen have the necessary molecular adhesion sites but are difficult to shape and manipulate. Thus, there is a need for a method of making scaffolding that combines the advantages of both synthetic and natural materials.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages

We have created a novel method for preparing composite collagen microfiber scaffolds and biomaterials with a broad range of mechanical properties and applications. The material of the meshes we use, collagen Type 1, has excellent cell adhesion and remodeling properties. Our method first shapes collagen into fine fibers through wet-spinning.  Following this, a programmable robotic device arranges the collagen into a nearly infinite number of user-specified meshes. The primary advantages of this method over other methods of fibrous scaffold pro-duction are the use of collagen Type 1, the high fidelity of the meshes, and the simple process through which mesh designs can be created and fabricated.

The mesh patterns can be designed using a graphical user interface and translated into automated fabrication protocols (similar to those used by 3D printers), enabling the fabrication of complex designs. An aseptic method captures the meshes and embeds them in natural polymer hydrogels either as acellular biomaterials or with cells as engineered tissues. This powerful, flexible platform will advance the study of tissue engineering and cell material interactions, as well as the development of therapeutic biomaterials in the form of custom collagen microfiber patterns.

Collaboration Opportunity

We are interested in exploring 1) startup opportunities with investors; 2) collaborations with leading medical research companies; and 3) licensing opportunities with companies.

Principal Investigator

Kareen L. K. Coulombe, PhD

Associate Professor of Engineering

Brown University

IP Information

US Utility US20200215228A1, Published July 9, 2020


Kaiser NJ, Kant RJ, Minor AJ, and Coulombe KLK. Optimizing Blended Collagen-Fibrin Hydrogels for Cardiac Tissue Engineering with Human iPSC-derived Cardiomyocytes. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 2019;5(2):887-899.



Melissa Simon, PhD

Director of Business Development, Life Sciences

Brown Tech ID 2591

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Kareen Coulombe
Nicholas Kaiser
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