Third Symposium on Innovative Polymers for Controlled Delivery Sponsorship

We are pleased to announce that The 3rd Symposium on Innovative Polymers for Controlled Delivery (SIPCD 2014)

In Honor of Prof. Dr. Jan Feijen’s 70th Birthday

will be held on September 16-19, 2014 in the Garden Hotel, Suzhou, China

The symposium is co-organized by Soochow University and Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. SIPCD 2014 will welcome approximately 450 delegates, with 31 invited lectures and 220 poster presentations. The whole symposium is organized in one single session. It will also include a stimulating Debate on Drug Delivery.

Invited speakers include Biomaterials Science board members Jianjun Cheng and Jun Wang. A full list of International Plenary Speakers can be found here.

Please see the conference website to register your attendance or submit an abstract.

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Controlling neuronal behavior with nano-topography

Morphological and cellular changes in neurons in response to different nanotopographies

The ability to control neuronal behavior and growth is highly sought among researchers interested in neuro-regenerative medicine.  Over the past two decades, it has become widely accepted that modifications in a substrate’s physical surface topography can influence the growth patterns of seeded neurites.  However, the advent of techniques that are capable of fabricating nano-textured surfaces has revealed that the magnitude of this influence may be much greater than originally thought.  In this paper, a group of scientists from KAIST review a number of recent advances in the development of nano-topographies which can influence neuronal behavior.

Many of these advances revolve around improving neural adhesion, providing directional guidance for axonal growth, and accelerating the speed of neurite outgrowth.  Numerous groups have become interested in using nanowire arrays to improve neuron adhesion, eliminating the need for any additional surface coating.  In a 2010 Nano Letters publication, Xie et al. were able to demonstrate the creation of a silicon nanopillar array that could selectively pin cortical neurons to desired locations.  Any cells that were seeded onto, or later came into contact with the nanopillars became immobilized, enabling a long-term observational study of their electrical activity.  Other groups have found that nanofiber bundles make excellent scaffolding materials for neurons and can be used to direct and align neurite growth.  In addition, when compared to planar surfaces, nanofiber-based substrates were shown to increase the speed at which initial neurite formation occurred.

Although the benefits of nano-textured substrates are clear, the mechanism by which neurons translate these physical cues into biological signals is still something of a mystery.  However, many of the reviewed papers suggest that actin filaments and focal adhesions (FA) play a major role.  One group found that f-actin often forms networks which resemble the shape of the underlying surface topography and that the impairment of f-actin polymerization completely erases any ability neurons have to respond to nanotopographical cues.  Other groups have demonstrated that the size of FA is proportional to the degree of neuronal alignment with underlying surface structures.  An increase in alignment leads to a larger FA which ultimately results in a more stable neurite attachment.

Regardless of the mechanism, it has become clear in recent years that nanotopography is an important parameter for the controlled manipulation of neuronal behavior.  In this mini-review, Kim et al. are able to provide an interesting overview on the progress that has already been made within this area.

Neurons on nanometric topographies: insights into neuronal behaviors in vitro
M. Kim, M. Park, K. Kang, and I.S. Choi.
Biomater. Sci., 2014, 2, 148-155 DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60255A

Ellen Tworkoski is a guest web-writer for Biomaterials Science.  She is currently a graduate student in the biomedical engineering department at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA).

Follow the latest journal news on Twitter @BioMaterSci or go to our Facebook page.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our RSS feed or Table of contents alert.

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NanoBio Australia 2014

Incorporating the 5th International NanoBio Conference & 3rd International Conference on BioNano Innovation (ICBNI), NanoBio Australia 2014 will take place on 6-10th July 2014 in Brisbane, Australia.

The intersection of Biology with Nanoscience and Nanotechnology currently represents one of the most exciting wellsprings of scientific innovation, and is also a major stimulus for a plethora of high value technologies and industries. By combining the two largest conferences in the world which focus on this scientific frontier, NanoBio Australia 2014 will feature a diverse array of multi-disciplinary science designed to connect world-leading scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs working in this space.

International Plenary Speakers:

Please see the conference website to register your attendance or submit an abstract.

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Lectureship nominations close on Friday 7th March!

Time is running out to make your nominations for the Biomaterials Science Lectureship! Please submit your nominations by Friday 7th March 2014.

A reminder of the details…

Qualification

To be eligible for the Biomaterials Science Lectureship, the candidate should be in the earlier stages of their scientific career, typically within 15 years of attaining their doctorate or equivalent degree, and will have made a significant contribution to the field.

Description

The recipient of the award will be asked to present a lecture three times, one of which will be located in the home country of the recipient. The Biomaterials Science Editorial Office will provide the sum of £1000 to the recipient for travel and accommodation costs.

The award recipient will be presented with the award at one of the three award lectures. They will also be asked to contribute a lead article to the journal and will have their work showcased on the back cover of the issue in which their article is published.

Selection

The recipient of the award will be selected and endorsed by the Biomaterials Science Editorial Board.

Nominations

Those wishing to make a nomination should send details of the nominee, including a brief C.V. (no longer than 2 pages A4) together with a letter (no longer than 2 pages A4) supporting the nomination, to the Biomaterials Science Editorial Office (biomaterialsscience-rsc@rsc.org ) by 7th March 2014.  Self-nomination is not permitted.

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

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Introducing new Editorial Board Member Adah Almutairi

We are very pleased to welcome Professor Adah Almutairi to the Biomaterials Science Editorial Board.

Adah Almutairi is co-director of the joint KACST-UC San Diego Center for Excellence in Nanomedicine and Engineering and an associate professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego, with secondary appointments in NanoEngineering and Materials Science. Her own research group, the Laboratory for Bioresponsive Materials, creates novel smart materials for on-demand drug delivery, regeneration of damaged tissue, and safe image-based diagnosis. She came to UC San Diego in 2008 from UC Berkeley, where she worked with Professor Jean Fréchet to develop several nanoprobes for in vivo imaging of pH and angiogenesis.  Prof. Almutairi is the recipient of an NIH New Innovator Award and has been recognized as a rising star in the field of polymeric materials by Chemical Communications and the ACS Division of Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering.

Adah’s recent papers include:

Increasing materials’ response to two-photon NIR light via self-immolative dendritic scaffolds
Nadezda Fomina, Cathryn L. McFearin and Adah Almutairi  
Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 9138-9140 DOI: 10.1039/C2CC00072E

Metal chelating crosslinkers form nanogels with high chelation stability
Jacques Lux, Minnie Chan, Luce Vander Elst, Eric Schopf, Enas Mahmoud, Sophie Laurent and Adah Almutairi  
J. Mater. Chem. B, 2013, 1, 6359-6364 DOI: 10.1039/C3TB21104E, Paper

Antigen-loaded pH-sensitive hydrogel microparticles are taken up by dendritic cells with no requirement for targeting antibodies
Laura E. Ruff, Enas A. Mahmoud, Jagadis Sankaranarayanan, José M. Morachis, Carol D. Katayama, Maripat Corr, Stephen M. Hedrick and Adah Almutairi  
Integr. Biol., 2013, 5, 195-203 DOI: 10.1039/C2IB20109G

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Zeolite–polymer composite adsorbs uremic toxins

Scientists in Japan have developed a nanofibre mesh that can adsorb creatinine from blood with the hope that it can eventually be developed into a wearable blood-cleaning device for patients with kidney failure.

It is hoped the mesh can eventually be developed into a wearable blood-cleaning device

It is hoped the mesh can eventually be developed into a wearable blood-cleaning device

Kidney failure causes dangerous concentrations of waste products, such as potassium, urea and creatinine, to build-up in the body. Apart from having a kidney transplant, the next best solution for patients is dialysis. Dialysis, however, is far from ideal. It is time-consuming and relies on access to specialist equipment, clean water, electricity, dialysate, and, usually, a hospital. Often these requirements aren’t accessible in rural parts of developing countries and disaster areas.

Read the full article at Chemistry World.

Fabrication of zeolite–polymer composite nanofibers for removal of uremic toxins from kidney failure patients
Mitsuhiro Ebara  
Biomater. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60263J

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Mending a broken heart: Myocardial matrix hydrogels for cardiac tissue engineering

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease causes 17.3 million deaths worldwide, with projections reaching 23.3 million deaths by the year 2030. Unfortunately, heart attack patients still have limited therapeutic options, commonly relying on left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) and heart transplantation. To provide more modern therapies, physicians have turned to tissue engineers to develop biomaterials that enable local regeneration of the heart to restore function and ideally improve the quality of life for the patient.

Professor Karen Christman’s lab at the University of California – San Diego (UCSD) is exploring methods to fabricate injectable hydrogels for cardiac repair. In the present study, the lab has developed human myocardial matrix (HMM), and compared the material properties of HMM to previously fabricated porcine myocardial matrix (PMM). The materials are made directly from the decellularized extracellular matrix (ECM) from human and porcine hearts. The decellularized matrices are composed of the natural structural proteins found in the heart, which make the ideal environment needed to promote cardiac cell growth and maturation.

To produce HMM, seven human hearts with a patient age range of 41-69 years were decellularized using sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and a series of lyophilization, milling, and digestion steps.  Due to the dramatic patient-to-patient variability between hearts, over 50% of the HMM solutions were not able to self-assemble into hydrogels at physiological conditions, unlike self-assembling PMM hydrogels. The irreproducibility of HMM hydrogel fabrication is likely due to differences in protein composition between HMM and PMM. Using mass spectrometry to identify the proteins present in the decellularized matrices, the authors showed that porcine and human hearts have inherent differences in their matrix composition.

Although HMM did not produce hydrogels reproducibly, the matrix was still useful for in vitro cell culture protocols. Using PMM and HMM as coatings for cell culture plates, increased proliferation of rat aortic smooth muscle cells (RASMCs) and human coronary artery endothelial cells (HCAECs) was observed on HMM coated plates compared to PMM coated plates. Additionally, cell cultured on both HMM and PMM matrices showed increased expression of early cardiac transcription factor markers in human fetal cardiomyocyte progenitor cells (hCMPCs). This result indicates that biochemical cues from the HMM and PMM proteins may enhance early stages of cardiomyocyte differentiation.

Even though HMM was shown to not be a likely candidate for clinical translation due to large variability between samples, PMM injectable hydrogels are still a promising alternative for improving cardiac repair in vivo. Additionally, HMM materials may be used for future in vitro cell culture and cardiomyocyte differentiation protocols.

Human versus porcine tissue sourcing for an injectable myocardial matrix hydrogel
Todd D. Johnson, Jessica A. DeQuach, Roberto Gaetani, Jessica Ungerleider, Dean Elhag, Vishal Nigam, Atta Behfar, and Karen L. Christman
Biomater. Sci., 2014, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60283D

Brian Aguado is currently a Ph.D. Candidate and NSF Fellow in the Biomedical Engineering department at Northwestern University. He holds a B.S. degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Read more about Brian’s research publications here.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our RSS feed or Table of contents

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Announcing new members of the Biomaterials Science Advisory Board

We are very pleased to introduce the new members of the Biomaterials Science Advisory Board:

Jianwu Dai is currently a Professor at the Intitute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research is focused on stem cells and regerative medicine.

Professor Dai obtained a B.Sc. in Cell Biology at Wuhan University, China, before completing an M.Sc. in Biophysics at Beijing Medical University. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University Medical Center (USA) in 1998, before joining Harvard Medical School as a Postdoctoral trainee, working on animal genetics and stem cells.


Ali Khademhosseini is an Associate Professor at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School as well as an Associate Faculty at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and a Junior PI at Japan’s World Premier International-Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University where he directs a satellite laboratory. He has authored more than 300 papers and 50 book chapters.   He has engineered a range of hydrogels for tissue engineering and utilized various micro- and nanoengineering approaches to further modify the hydrogel properties / architecture.

Dr. Khademhosseini’s interdisciplinary research has been recognized by over 30 major national and international awards.  He has received early career awards from three major engineering discipline societies: electrical (IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society award and IEEE Nanotechnology award), chemical (Colburn award from the AIChE) and mechanical engineering (Y.C. Fung award from the ASME).  He is also a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honour given by the US government for early career investigators. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).   He received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from MIT (2005), and MASc (2001) and BASc (1999) degrees from University of Toronto, both in chemical engineering.


Doo Sung Lee received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the Seoul National University in 1978 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Since 1984 he has been a Professor of  the School of Chemical Engineering at the Sungkyunkwan University, where he served as the Dean of the College of Engineering from 2005 to 2007.

Doo Sung Lee was elected as a member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology in 2011 and was made a member of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea in 2012. He was a president of the Polymer Society of Korea in 2013. Since 2010, he has been a director of Theranostic Macromolecules Research Center funded by National Research Foundation of Korea  His research group studies on the development of functionalized & biodegradable injectable hydrogels and micelles for controlled drug and protein delivery and molecular imaging.


Suzie H. Pun received her Chemical Engineering Ph.D. degree in 2000 from the California Institute of Technology.  She then worked as a senior scientist at Insert Therapeutics for 3 years before joining the Department of Bioengineering at University of Washington (UW).  She is currently the Robert J Rushmer Associate Professor of Bioengineering, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and a member of the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute at UW.  Her research focus area is in drug and gene delivery systems and she has published over 75 research articles in this area.  For this work, she was recognized with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2006.


Xintao Shuai received his Ph. D. degree in 1996 from Beijing Institute of Technology (China). After working for some years as a visiting scholar or postdoc at North Carolina State University, Philipps-University Marburg and Case Western Reserve University, he joined Sun Yat-sen University, China in 2005 as a professor of polymer science in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and professor by courtesy of biomedical engineering in the School of Medicine. Dr. Shuai’s research interests include polymeric nano-biomaterials for drug delivery and MRI-visible theranostic systems for disease diagnosis and treatment. He has published over 80 peer reviewed journal articles.


Joyce Wong is a Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at Boston University. She directs the Biomimetic Materials Engineering Laboratory which is focused on developing biomaterial systems that mimic physiological and pathophysiological environments to study fundamental cellular processes at the biointerface. Current research includes vascular tissue engineering, theranostics, and engineering biomimetic systems to study restenosis and cancer metastasis.


We are delighted to welcome these six distinguished scientists to the Biomaterials Science team. For a full list of Biomaterials Science Editorial and Advisory board members, please see the website.

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Nanoscale semiconductor devices as new biomaterials

Most biological organisms depend on electrical signals to function properly. For instance, neurons are electrically active cells that transmit signals to other neurons using electrical signals known as action potentials. Other electrically active cells such as cardiomyocytes in the heart spontaneously generate electrical signals that regulate normal heart rhythm. Additionally, electrical signals are also known to mediate certain processes such as cell migration and cell division. Knowing that biological organisms rely on electrical signals to function, biomaterials scientists are searching for opportunities on how to use innovative electrically conductive materials to deepen our understanding of fundamental biological processes.

Professor Bozhi Tian and his team at the University of Chicago have recently written a mini-review discussing nanoscale semiconductor devices and how they can revolutionize our understanding of cellular electrophysiology. Semiconductor devices such as silicon nanowire field effect transistors (NWFETs) operate at a sufficient resolution to detect the slightest changes in chemical and electrical signals (down to the pico- and femto- unit scales). These devices could theoretically be used as a low-cost strategy for disease marker detection in the clinic.

Ramya Parameswaran, an MD/PhD student at the University of Chicago and second author on the mini-review, explains that the use of nanoscale semiconductor devices in the clinic is not far away. The authors discuss the development of “multiplex sensing” semiconductor devices seek to replace enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) in the future, with the ability to detect concentrations of proteins, nucleic acids, and other ions within cells simultaneously with one device. “Multiplexing nanomaterials can hopefully soon be used to detect biomarkers such as cancer antigens or other important players involved in disease processes in a rapid fashion,” says Parameswaran. “While clinical trials for devices such as these have not been performed as of yet, the proof of concept exists.” These devices would ultimately accelerate patient diagnosis, and would ideally improve patient treatments for a variety of diseases.

The application of nanoscale semiconductor devices in the tissue-engineering field is also emerging. Nanoscale semiconductors embedded in tissue-engineered implants could be used to record electrical information for monitoring and ensuring proper functionality of the implant. Interestingly, nanoelectronic scaffolds can be used for a variety of tissue targets. “Free-standing nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds can be interfaced with neurons, smooth muscle cells, and cardiomyocytes to monitor local electrical activity within the hybrid scaffolds,” says Parameswaran. Using these nanoelectronic scaffolds, tissue responses to drug treatments could also be “monitored meticulously,” which is another advantage for accelerating the translation of these devices to the clinic.

This mini-review describes the current status of nanoscale semiconductor devices and how they can advance our understanding of cell electrophysiology. Additionally, these devices could have a transformative role in the design of medical devices and tissue engineering scaffolds for clinical applications.

Nanoscale semiconductor devices as new biomaterials
John Zimmerman, Ramya Parmeswaran, and Bozhi Tian
Biomaterial Sci., Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60280J

Brian Aguado is currently a Ph.D. Candidate and NSF Fellow in the Biomedical Engineering department at Northwestern University. He holds a B.S. degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. Read more about Brian’s research publications here.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our RSS feed or Table of contents

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Inducing biomimetic mineralization using a graphene oxide-chitosan hybrid material

Chemical conjugation of graphene oxide with chitosan and subsequent mineralization of hydroxyapatite

One of the primary goals within the field of hard tissue engineering is to create biomaterials that can both promote osteoblast proliferation and support the natural bone mineralization process.  In this study, a trio of researchers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has developed a promising, layered hybrid system that contains hydroxyapatite (HAP), chitosan (CS), and graphene oxide (GO).  The GO base provides mechanical strength and biocompatibility while the surface layer which is composed of HAP, a natural constituent of bone, has a high bioactivity.  The intermediate chitosan layer further strengthens the hybrid biomaterial and, perhaps more importantly, has been shown to promote more homogeneous mineralization that mimics the natural biomineralization process.

In order to test the bone forming capabilities of this hybrid material the group soaked it, along with two control materials (HAP-GO and pure GO), in simulated body fluid for three weeks.  Each substrate was then incubated with MC3T3-E1 pre-osteoblast cells.  Among the three biomaterials, the HAP-CS-GO hybrid produced the highest levels of cell proliferation and expansion.   It also induced the greatest expression levels of vinculin, actin, and fibronectin, proteins that are essential for cell adhesion, cytoskeletal organization, and osteoblast morphogenesis and mineralization.  The hybrid material also demonstrated a highly significant increase in mineralized area and bone nodule formation compared to either of the two controls.  This was primarily attributed to the strong electrostatic interactions between the functional groups in the CS-GO base and the calcium ions present in solution.

Overall the hybrid HAP-CS-GO material was able to favorably modulate cellular activity in a way that was conducive to bone formation, making it a promising candidate for future bone tissue engineering applications.   However, as the authors have highlighted, there is room for improvement.  A reoccurring issue that many bone tissue engineering materials, including this novel hybrid material, have faced is an inability to attain the proper ratio of mineral deposit to cellular matrix in the regenerated tissue.  This mineral to matrix ratio has been shown to be relatively high in healthy, intact bone (~4.35-5) but was observed in a significantly lower amount (1.76) in the HAP-CS-GO material.  Nonetheless, the hybrid biomaterial reported in this study represents a promising direction forward in the field of bone tissue engineering.

The synergistic effect of a hybrid graphene oxide-chitosan system and biomimetic mineralization on osteoblast functions
D. Depan, T. C. Pesacreta and R. D. K. Misra
Biomater. Sci., 2014, 2, 264-274 DOI: 10.1039/C3BM60192G

Ellen Tworkoski is a guest web-writer for Biomaterials Science.  She is currently a graduate student in the biomedical engineering department at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL, USA).

Follow the latest journal news on Twitter @BioMaterSci or go to our Facebook page.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest research, sign-up to our RSS feed or Table of contents alert.

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