Living biointerfaces

Materials-based approaches to direct stem cell fate are the focus of a rapidly developing international research that has already resulted in major findings in relation to surface chemistry, stiffness and nanotopography. In these approaches, synthetic biomaterials have been functionalised with a broad range of proteins and growth factors that provide (static) cues to direct cell behaviour. However, these models are a poor representation of in vivo behaviours, where cells interact with the extracellular environment through a highly dynamic process that comprises different spatiotemporal stimuli at different stages. To address this issue, we utilise genetically modified non-pathogenic bacteria as a functional and dynamic interface between biomaterials and stem cells. These living interfacesconsist of engineered bacteria that express a fibronectin fragment on their membrane and promote cell adhesion, signalling and differentiation.