Biomimicry at the nanoscale: current research and perspectives of two-photon polymerization
Living systems such as cells and tissues are extremely sensitive to their surrounding physico-chemical microenvironment. In the field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, the maintenance of culture conditions suitable for the formation of proliferation niches, for the self-renewal maintenance of stem cells, or for the promotion of a particular differentiation fate is an important issue that has been addressed using different strategies. A number of investigations suggests that a particular cell behavior can be in vitro resembled by mimicking the corresponding in vivo conditions. In this context, several biomimetic environments have been designed in order to control cell phenotypes and functions. In this review, we will analyze the most recent examples of the control of the in vitro physical micro/nano-environment by exploiting an innovative technique of high resolution 3D photolithography, the two-photon polymerization (2pp). The biomedical applications of this versatile and disruptive computer assisted design/manufacturing technology are very wide, and range from the fabrication of biomimetic and nanostructured scaffolds for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, to the microfabrication of biomedical devices, like ossicular replacement prosthesis and microneedles.