Bioskiving: A New Way To Build Collagen Scaffolds
    By News Staff | December 28th 2012 04:32 AM | 1 comment | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is widely used to build scaffolds for tissue engineering because it is biocompatible and biodegradable. Collagen is, however, hard to work with in its natural form because it is largely insoluble in water, and common processing techniques reduce its strength and disrupt its fibrous structure.

    Tufts University School of Engineering researchers have developed a new method for fabricating collagen structures that maintains the collagen's natural strength and fiber structure, making it useful for a number of biomedical applications.

    The new technique, called bioskiving, creates collagen structures from thin sheets of decellularized tendon stacked with alternating fiber directions that maintain much of collagen's natural strength. 

    Bioskiving does not dilute collagen's natural properties, says Qiaobing Xu, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and inventor of the new technique. "Our method leverages collagen's native attributes to take advantage of the well-organized micro/nanostructures that nature already provides," he says.  

    Slice, Stack, and Roll

    This inforgraphic depicts the new bioskiving technique developed at Tufts. Credit: Qiaobing Xu

    In their research, Xu and Kyle Alberti, a Ph.D. student in Xu's lab, cut small sections of collagen from bovine tendons. Using a specialized detergent, the researchers decellularized the sections, leaving intact only the extracellular collagen matrix made of bundles of aligned collagen nanofibers.

    Xu and Alberti sliced the sections into ultra-thin sheets using a microtome, and then stacked 10 slices, crisscrossing the sheets so that the fibers in one ran perpendicular to those above and below it. This process produced a scaffold material with tensile strength stronger than constructs made using common processing techniques, Xu notes.

    The researchers also created tubular scaffolding by rolling layers of collagen sheets around Teflon-coated glass rods. The sheets were layered so that fibers ran along the length and the circumference of the rods. This process yielded tubes that were found to be stronger than similar tubes made of reconstituted collagen. They also maintained their highly aligned fiber structure.

    "Alignment gives the scaffold the ability to guide the direction and orientation of cell growth," says Xu, who also has a faculty appointment at Tufts School of Medicine, "This capability is beneficial for tissue engineering applications where biocompatibility and the ability to guide unidirectional nerve growth are both desired, such as prosthetic or tissue engineering-based blood vessels or nerve conduits."

    Published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.


    Bioskiving is an interesting term.  I had not encountered the word “skive” until I started work at Reading University in 1972, where the term “skive off” was frequently used of those who took time away from work to do things more congenial.

    It later occurred to me that “skive” might be a Scandinavian word meaning “shave”.  Many Scandinavian words with “sk” have cognates in Old English “sc” pronounced “sh”.  A classic example is “fish” which is “fisk” in Norwegian.  The Norse pronunciation is more original, and closer to the Latin “piscis” with a hard “c”, at least in Ancient Roman times.

    Many of these Scandinavian versions are found in English, as a result of the Viking settlements in the north of the country.  A particularly interesting case is the pair of words “short” and “skirt”, which are Saxon and Viking versions of a word meaning “a short garment”.  Presumably this was some kind of tunic, which shrank from the top down in the south, and from the bottom up in the north.

    So, thought I, maybe the word implied shaving off bits of work time, as if one was cutting down a bit of wood with a plane or chisel.  Looking up the meaning of “skive” in an online etymological dictionary, I find “skive — split or cut into strips.”  And in the same dictionary, I find that the Old English version of “shave” means “to scrape, shave, polish”, i.e. in wood or metalwork of some kind, with the application to hair only attested from the 13th century in Middle English.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England