The goal of musculoskeletal tissue engineering is to develop treatment strategies for orthopedic tissues such as bone, ligament, tendon, and cartilage using a combination of natural and synthetic biocompatible and biodegradable materials that are formed into 3-dimensional (3D) scaffolds. These strategies are often designed to overcome the many disadvantages associated with conventional strategies such as allografts and autografts, while still exhibiting the physical and chemical properties necessary to regenerate biologically sound tissues. Once the materials are fabricated and implanted, the presence of cells and growth factors interact with the implanted materials to initiate tissue regeneration throughout a 3D pore network. As regeneration continues, the biodegradable scaffold is slowly resorbed by the body and ultimately replaced with newly regenerated tissue free of any residual polymer.
There are several factors that contribute to the overall success of the implanted scaffold. For instance, biomaterial selection, scaffold fabrication method, growth factor selection and cell line choice illustrate a few tunable aspects that work synergistically to regenerate damaged tissue. Biodegradable polymers such as poly (lactide-co-glycolide), poly (caprolactone), polyphosphazenes, and composites of these polymers with each other and various inorganic compounds, have been used with nanofiber and microsphere technology extensively in 3D scaffold development.