Tremendous progress in stem cell biology has resulted in a major current focus on effective modalities to promote directed cellular behavior for clinical therapy. The fundamental principles of tissue engineering are aimed at providing soluble and insoluble biological cues to promote these directed biological responses. Better understanding of extracellular matrix functions is ensuring optimal adhesive substrates to promote cell mobility and a suitable physical niche to direct stem cell responses. Further, appreciation of the roles of matrix constituents as morphogen cues, termed matrikines or matricryptins, are also now being directly exploited in biomaterial design. These insoluble topological cues can be presented at both micro- and nanoscales with specific fabrication techniques. Progress in development and molecular biology has described key roles for a range of biological molecules, such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids, to serve as morphogens promoting directed behavior in stem cells. Controlled-release systems involving encapsulation of bioactive agents within polymeric carriers are enabling utilization of soluble cues. Using our efforts at dental craniofacial tissue engineering, this narrative review focuses on outlining specific biomaterial fabrication techniques, such as electrospinning, gas foaming, and 3D printing used in combination with polymeric nano- or microspheres. These avenues are providing unprecedented therapeutic opportunities for precision bioengineering for regenerative applications.
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