Development and characterisation of a collagen nano-hydroxyapatite composite scaffold for bone tissue engineering.

Bone regeneration requires scaffolds that possess suitable mechanical and biological properties. This study sought to develop a novel collagen-nHA biocomposite scaffold via two new methods. Firstly a stable nHA suspension was produced and added to a collagen slurry (suspension method), and secondly, porous collagen scaffolds were immersed in nHA suspension after freeze-drying (immersion method). Significantly stronger constructs were produced using both methods compared to collagen only scaffolds, with a high porosity maintained (>98.9%). It was found that Coll-nHA composite scaffolds produced by the suspension method were up to 18 times stiffer than the collagen control (5.50 +/- 1.70 kPa vs. 0.30 +/- 0.09 kPa). The suspension method was also more reproducible, and the quantity of nHA incorporated could be varied with greater ease than with the immersion technique. In addition, Coll-nHA composites display excellent biological activity, demonstrating their potential as bone graft substitutes in orthopaedic regenerative medicine.