Electrical Bioreactor Design for Tissue Engineering

  • Richard Balint

Student thesis: Phd


Bone fractures are a major health issue, causing severe pain and disability to millions of patients. Novel treatments based on tissue engineering, the creation of tissue implants through the combination of cells and biomaterials, are currently explored, promising faster and better healing. Electrical stimulation is known to be beneficial for the healing of bone and is applied regularly in the clinical setting to treat fractures. It is possible that this electrical modality could also be used to augment the tissue engineering process, improving the quality of the produced implants. In order to investigate this, the effect of electrical stimulation on human mesenchymal stem cells, an important bone tissue engineering cell type, was examined. An autoclavable, reusable, reliable and robust electrical bioreactor system was designed and built, that allows the delivery of homogenous capacitive stimulation in both the monolayer and 3D settings. The physical aspects of the interaction of cells and the electric field generated in the bioreactor was examined through computer simulations and signal measurements. In vitro experiments have been carried out demonstrating the ability of electrical stimuli to influence mesenchymal stem cell behaviour. Important experience has been gained on the principles governing the effects of electrical stimulation, emphasising the significance of electric field strength, culture condition, cell type, treatment duration, and signal waveform in defining the outcome of the stimulation. The knowledge gained in this study will help develop electrical stimulation into a truly useful tool for bone tissue engineering.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorBrian Derby (Supervisor) & Sarah Cartmell (Supervisor)


  • Bone
  • Tissue engineering
  • Bioreactor
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Computer simulation

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