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by Keyword: polymers

García-Torres J, Colombi S, Macor LP, Alemán C, (2022). Multitasking smart hydrogels based on the combination of alginate and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) properties: A review International Journal Of Biological Macromolecules 219, 312-332

Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a very stable and biocompatible conducting polymer, and alginate (Alg), a natural water-soluble polysaccharide mainly found in the cell wall of various species of brown algae, exhibit very different but at the same complementary properties. In the last few years, the remarkable capacity of Alg to form hydrogels and the electro-responsive properties of PEDOT have been combined to form not only layered composites (PEDOT-Alg) but also interpenetrated multi-responsive PEDOT/Alg hydrogels. These materials have been found to display outstanding properties, such as electrical conductivity, piezoelectricity, biocompatibility, self-healing and re-usability properties, pH and thermoelectric responsiveness, among others. Consequently, a wide number of applications are being proposed for PEDOT-Alg composites and, especially, PEDOT/Alg hydrogels, which should be considered as a new kind of hybrid material because of the very different chemical nature of the two polymeric components. This review summarizes the applications of PEDOT-Alg and PEDOT/Alg in tissue interfaces and regeneration, drug delivery, sensors, microfluidics, energy storage and evaporators for desalination. Special attention has been given to the discussion of multi-tasking applications, while the new challenges to be tackled based on aspects not yet considered in either of the two polymers have also been highlighted.Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: aerogels, composite, conducting polymer, conducting polymers, electrodes, pedotpss, ph, platform, release, scaffold, semi-interpenetrated hydrogels, Alginic acid, Conducting polymer, Drug-delivery, Semi-interpenetrated hydrogels


Pala, M, El Khannaji, H, Garay-Sarmiento, M, Ronda, JC, Cadiz, V, Galia, M, Percec, V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, Lligadas, G, (2022). A green solvent-to-polymer upgrading approach to water-soluble LCST poly(N-substituted lactamide acrylate)s Green Chemistry 24, 8314-8323

We report a green solvent-to-polymer upgrading transformation of chemicals of the lactic acid portfolio into water-soluble lower critical solution temperature (LCST)-type acrylic polymers. Aqueous Cu(0)-mediated living radical polymerization (SET-LRP) was utilized for the rapid synthesis of N-substituted lactamide-type homo and random acrylic copolymers under mild conditions. A particularly unique aspect of this work is that the water-soluble monomers and the SET-LRP initiator used to produce the corresponding polymers were synthesized from biorenewable and non-toxic solvents, namely natural ethyl lactate and BASF's Agnique (R) AMD 3L (N,N-dimethyl lactamide, DML). The pre-disproportionation of Cu(I) Br in the presence of tris[2-(dimethylamino)ethyl]amine (Me6TREN) in water generated nascent Cu(0) and Cu(II) complexes that facilitated the fast polymerization of N-tetrahydrofurfuryl lactamide and N,N-dimethyl lactamide acrylate monomers (THFLA and DMLA, respectively) up to near-quantitative conversion with excellent control over molecular weight (5000 < M-n < 83 000) and dispersity (1.05 < D < 1.16). Interestingly, poly(THFLA) showed a degree of polymerization and concentration dependent LCST behavior, which can be fine-tuned (T-cp = 12-62 degrees C) through random copolymerization with the more hydrophilic DMLA monomer. Finally, covalent cross-linking of these polymers resulted in a new family of thermo-responsive hydrogels with excellent biocompatibility and tunable swelling and LCST transition. These illustrate the versatility of these neoteric green polymers in the preparation of smart and biocompatible soft materials.

JTD Keywords: Acid, Ethyl lactate, Living radical polymerization, Monomers, Pnipam, Reductive amination, Ruthenium nanoparticles, Set-lrp, Single, Thermoresponsive polymers


Wauters, Annelies C., Scheerstra, Jari F., Vermeijlen, Irma G., Hammink, Roel, Schluck, Marjolein, Woythe, Laura, Wu, Hanglong, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Figdor, Carl G., Tel, Jurjen, Abdelmohsen, Loai KEA., van Hest, Jan CM., (2022). Artificial Antigen-Presenting Cell Topology Dictates T Cell Activation Acs Nano 16, 15072-15085

Joseph A, Wagner AM, Garay-Sarmiento M, Aleksanyan M, Haraszti T, Söder D, Georgiev VN, Dimova R, Percec V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger C, (2022). Zwitterionic Dendrimersomes: A Closer Xenobiotic Mimic of Cell Membranes Advanced Materials 34, 2206288

Building functional mimics of cell membranes is an important task toward the development of synthetic cells. So far, lipid and amphiphilic block copolymers are the most widely used amphiphiles with the bilayers by the former lacking stability while membranes by the latter are typically characterized by very slow dynamics. Herein, we introduce a new type of Janus dendrimer containing a zwitterionic phosphocholine hydrophilic headgroup (JDPC ) and a 3,5-substituted dihydrobenzoate-based hydrophobic dendron. JDPC self-assembles in water into zwitterionic dendrimersomes (z-DSs) that faithfully recapitulate the cell membrane in thickness, flexibility, and fluidity, while being resilient to harsh conditions and displaying faster pore closing dynamics in the event of membrane rupture. This enables the fabrication of hybrid DSs with components of natural membranes, including pore-forming peptides, structure-directing lipids, and glycans to create raft-like domains or onion vesicles. Moreover, z-DSs can be used to create active synthetic cells with life-like features that mimic vesicle fusion and motility as well as environmental sensing. Despite their fully synthetic nature, z-DSs are minimal cell mimics that can integrate and interact with living matter with the programmability to imitate life-like features and beyond. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: biological-membranes, bottom-up synthetic biology, chain, hybrid vesicles, hydroethidine, organization, polymersome, proteins, stability, synthetic cells, thickness, vesicle fusion, vesicle motility, vesicles, zwitterionic dendrimersomes, Biosensor, Biosensors, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Hybrid vesicles, Lipid-bilayers, Synthetic cells, Vesicle fusion, Vesicle motility, Zwitterionic dendrimersomes


De Corato, M, Arroyo, M, (2022). A theory for the flow of chemically responsive polymer solutions: Equilibrium and shear-induced phase separation Journal Of Rheology 66, 813-835

Chemically responsive polymers are macromolecules that respond to local variations of the chemical composition of the solution by changing their conformation, with notable examples including polyelectrolytes, proteins, and DNA. The polymer conformation changes can occur in response to changes in the pH, the ionic strength, or the concentration of a generic solute that interacts with the polymer. These chemical stimuli can lead to drastic variations of the polymer flexibility and even trigger a transition from a coil to a globule polymer conformation. In many situations, the spatial distribution of the chemical stimuli can be highly inhomogeneous, which can lead to large spatial variations of polymer conformation and of the rheological properties of the mixture. In this paper, we develop a theory for the flow of a mixture of solute and chemically responsive polymers. The approach is valid for generic flows and inhomogeneous distributions of polymers and solutes. To model the polymer conformation changes introduced by the interactions with the solute, we consider the polymers as linear elastic dumbbells whose spring stiffness depends on the solute concentration. We use Onsager's variational formalism to derive the equations governing the evolution of the variables, which unveils novel couplings between the distribution of dumbbells and that of the solute. Finally, we use a linear stability analysis to show that the governing equations predict an equilibrium phase separation and a distinct shear-induced phase separation whereby a homogeneous distribution of solute and dumbbells spontaneously demix. Similar phase transitions have been observed in previous experiments using stimuli-responsive polymers and may play an important role in living systems. (C) 2022 The Society of Rheology.

JTD Keywords: Coil-globule transition, Constitutive equation, Dilute-solutions, Dumbbell model, Dynamics, Macromolecules, Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, Polyelectrolytes, Polymer migration, Polymer phase separation, Polymers, Predictions, Rheology, Shear-induced phase separation, Solute-polymer interactions, Stress, Viscoelasticity


Fontana‐Escartín, Adrián, Lanzalaco, Sonia, Pérez‐Madrigal, Maria M., Bertran, Oscar, Alemán, Carlos, (2022). Electrochemical activation for sensing of three‐dimensional‐printed poly(lactic acid) using low‐pressure plasma Plasma Processes And Polymers 19, 2200101

Subirada, F, Paoli, R, Sierra-Agudelo, J, Lagunas, A, Rodriguez-Trujillo, R, Samitier, J, (2022). Development of a Custom-Made 3D Printing Protocol with Commercial Resins for Manufacturing Microfluidic Devices Polymers 14, 2955

The combination of microfluidics and photo-polymerization techniques such as stereolithography (SLA) has emerged as a new field which has a lot of potential to influence in such important areas as biological analysis, and chemical detection among others. However, the integration between them is still at an early stage of development. In this article, after analyzing the resolution of a custom SLA 3D printer with commercial resins, microfluidic devices were manufactured using three different approaches. First, printing a mold with the objective of creating a Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) replica with the microfluidic channels; secondly, open channels have been printed and then assembled with a flat cover of the same resin material. Finally, a closed microfluidic device has also been produced in a single process of printing. Important results for 3D printing with commercial resins have been achieved by only printing one layer on top of the channel. All microfluidic devices have been tested successfully for pressure-driven fluid flow.

JTD Keywords: 3d printing, Additive manufacturing, Microfluidics, Photo-curable polymers, Stereolithography


Wagner, AM, Eto, H, Joseph, A, Kohyama, S, Haraszti, T, Zamora, RA, Vorobii, M, Giannotti, MI, Schwille, P, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2022). Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Harbor Cell Division Machinery of Bacteria Advanced Materials 34, 2202364

The integration of active cell machinery with synthetic building blocks is the bridge toward developing synthetic cells with biological functions and beyond. Self-replication is one of the most important tasks of living systems, and various complex machineries exist to execute it. In Escherichia coli, a contractile division ring is positioned to mid-cell by concentration oscillations of self-organizing proteins (MinCDE), where it severs membrane and cell wall. So far, the reconstitution of any cell division machinery has exclusively been tied to liposomes. Here, the reconstitution of a rudimentary bacterial divisome in fully synthetic bicomponent dendrimersomes is shown. By tuning the membrane composition, the interaction of biological machinery with synthetic membranes can be tailored to reproduce its dynamic behavior. This constitutes an important breakthrough in the assembly of synthetic cells with biological elements, as tuning of membrane-divisome interactions is the key to engineering emergent biological behavior from the bottom-up.

JTD Keywords: Bacterial cell division, Bottom-up synthetic biology, Dendrimersomes, Dynamic min patterns, Dynamics, Ftsz assembly, Ftsz filaments, Mind, Organization, Pole oscillation, Polymersome membranes, Proteins, Rapid pole, Synthetic cells, Vesicles


Lanzalaco, Sonia, Gil, Pau, Mingot, Júlia, Àgueda, Alba, Alemán, Carlos, Armelin, Elaine, (2022). Dual-Responsive Polypropylene Meshes Actuating as Thermal and SERS Sensors Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 8, 3329-3340

Albisetti, E, Calo, A, Zanut, A, Zheng, XR, de Peppo, GM, Riedo, E, (2022). Thermal scanning probe lithography Nature Reviews Methods Primers 2, 32

Thermal scanning probe lithography (tSPL) is a nanofabrication method for the chemical and physical nanopatterning of a large variety of materials and polymer resists with a lateral resolution of 10 nm and a depth resolution of 1 nm. In this Primer, we describe the working principles of tSPL and highlight the characteristics that make it a powerful tool to locally and directly modify material properties in ambient conditions. We introduce the main features of tSPL, which can pattern surfaces by locally delivering heat using nanosized thermal probes. We define the most critical patterning parameters in tSPL and describe post-patterning analysis of the obtained results. The main sources of reproducibility issues related to the probe and the sample as well as the limitations of the tSPL technique are discussed together with mitigation strategies. The applications of tSPL covered in this Primer include those in biomedicine, nanomagnetism and nanoelectronics; specifically, we cover the fabrication of chemical gradients, tissue-mimetic surfaces, spin wave devices and field-effect transistors based on two-dimensional materials. Finally, we provide an outlook on new strategies that can improve tSPL for future research and the fabrication of next-generation devices.

JTD Keywords: Beam lithography, Design, Feature size, Force microscope cantilevers, Mos2, Polymer, Silicon, Speed, Thermochemical nanolithography, Tip


Gouveia, Virgínia M., Rizzello, Loris, Vidal, Bruno, Nunes, Claudia, Poma, Alessandro, Lopez?Vasquez, Ciro, Scarpa, Edoardo, Brandner, Sebastian, Oliveira, António, Fonseca, João E., Reis, Salette, Battaglia, Giuseppe, (2022). Targeting Macrophages and Synoviocytes Intracellular Milieu to Augment Anti-Inflammatory Drug Potency Advanced Therapeutics 5, 2100167

Bonamigo Moreira, Vitor, Rintjema, Jeroen, Bravo, Fernando, Kleij, Arjan W., Franco, Lourdes, Puiggalí, Jordi, Alemán, Carlos, Armelin, Elaine, (2022). Novel Biobased Epoxy Thermosets and Coatings from Poly(limonene carbonate) Oxide and Synthetic Hardeners Acs Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 10, 2708-2719

In the area of coating development, it is extremely difficult to find a substitute for bisphenol A diglycidyl ether (DGEBA), the classical petroleum-based raw material used for the formulation of epoxy thermosets. This epoxy resin offers fast curing reaction with several hardeners and the best thermal and chemical resistance properties for applications in coatings and adhesive technologies. In this work, a new biobased epoxy, derived from poly(limonene carbonate) oxide (PLCO), was combined with polyetheramine and polyamineamide curing agents, offering a spectrum of thermal and mechanical properties, superior to DGEBA-based thermosets. The best formulation was found to be a combination of PLCO and a commercial curing agent (Jeffamine) in a stoichiometric 1:1 ratio. Although PLCO is a solid due to its high molecular weight, it was possible to create a two-component partially biobased epoxy paint without the need of volatile organic compounds (i.e., solvent-free formulation), intended for use in coating technology to partially replace DGEBA-based thermosets.

JTD Keywords: acid, adhesion, epoxy thermoset, mechanical properties, monomer, polycarbonates, polymers, protection, resins, solvent-free paint, thermal properties, Adhesives, Biobased epoxy, Bisphenol-a-diglycidyl ethers, Carbonation, Coating development, Coating technologies, Curing, Curing agents, Epoxy coatings, Epoxy resins, Epoxy thermoset, Epoxy thermosets, Limonene oxide, Mechanical properties, Monoterpenes, Paint, Poly(limonene carbonate) oxide, Solvent free, Solvent-free paint, Thermal properties, Thermosets, Volatile organic compounds


Vukomanovic M, Cendra MdM, Baelo A, Torrents E, (2021). Nano-engineering stable contact-based antimicrobials: Chemistry at the interface between nano-gold and bacteria Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 208,

Contact-based antimicrobials, as antibiotic-free technologies that use non-specific interactions with bacterial cells to exert antimicrobial activity, are a prospective solution in fighting the global issue of bacterial resistance. A very simplified approach to their design considers the direct bonding of cationic guanidine-containing amino acids to the surface of nano-gold carriers. The structure enables antimicrobial activity due to a high density of cationic surface charges. This opens a set of novel questions that are important for their effective engineering, particularly regarding (i) chemistry and events that take place at the interface between NPs and cells, (ii) the direct influence of a charge (and its change) on interactions with bacterial and mammalian cells, and (iii) the stability of structures (and their antimicrobial activity) in the presence of enzymes, which are addressed in this paper. Because of the ability of amino acid-functionalized nano-gold to retain structural and functional activity, even after exposure to a range of physicochemical stimuli, they provide an excellent nanotechnological platform for designing highly effective contact-based antimicrobials and their applications.

JTD Keywords: agents, antibiotic-free technology, arginine, charged amino acids, contact-based antimicrobials, discovery, enzyme-resistant antimicrobials, functionalized gold, peptides, polymers, resistant, Antibiotic-free technology, Charged amino acids, Contact-based antimicrobials, Enzyme-resistant antimicrobials, Functionalized gold, Nanoparticles


Maiti, B, Nandi, M, Bonardd, S, Franco, L, Puiggali, J, Enshaei, H, Aleman, C, Diaz, DD, (2021). Efficient One-Pot Preparation of Thermoresponsive Polyurethanes with Lower Critical Solution Temperatures Chempluschem 86, 1570-1576

This work reports a simple and scalable strategy to prepare a series of thermoresponsive polyurethanes synthesized via copolymerization of dicyclohexyl diisocyanate with glycerol ethoxylate in a single one-pot system. These polyurethanes exhibit lower critical solution temperatures (LCST) at 57 degrees C. The LCST of synthesized polyurethane was determined from Dynamic Scanning Calorimetry and UV-vis measurements. Both the LCST and T-g of synthesized polyurethane was tuned by varying the ratio between hard segment (dicyclohexyl diisocyanate) and soft segment (glycerol ethoxylate). Thus, T-g values could be tuned from -54.6 degrees C to -19.9 degrees C for samples with different flexibility. The swelling and deswelling studies were done at room temperature and above the LCST respectively. The results showed that the swelling ratio increases with the increase of soft segment (glycerol ethoxylate) in synthesized polyurethanes. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of the membrane were studied by universal tensile testing measurements. Specifically, stress at break values varied from 0.35 +/- 0.07 MPa to 0.91 +/- 0.15 MPa for the tested membranes, whereas elongation at break data ranged from 101.9 +/- 20.9 % to 192.4 +/- 24.4 %, and Young's modulus varied from 0.35 +/- 0.03 MPa to 1.85 +/- 0.19 MPa. Tensile strength of the films increased with the increase of the hard segment and elongation at break decreased.

JTD Keywords: copolymerization, critical solution temperatures, polyurethanes, tensile strength, Biodegradable polyurethanes, Copolymerization, Critical solution temperatures, Glycol), Polymers, Polyurethanes, Solvent-free, Tensile strength, Thermoresponsive materials


Song, S, Mason, AF, Post, RAJ, De Corato, M, Mestre, R, Yewdall, NA, Cao, S, van der Hofstad, RW, Sanchez, S, Abdelmohsen, LKEA, van Hest, JCM, (2021). Engineering transient dynamics of artificial cells by stochastic distribution of enzymes Nature Communications 12,

Here the authors develop a coacervate micromotor that can display autonomous motion as a result of stochastic distribution of propelling units. This stochastic-induced mobility is validated and explained through experiments and theory. Random fluctuations are inherent to all complex molecular systems. Although nature has evolved mechanisms to control stochastic events to achieve the desired biological output, reproducing this in synthetic systems represents a significant challenge. Here we present an artificial platform that enables us to exploit stochasticity to direct motile behavior. We found that enzymes, when confined to the fluidic polymer membrane of a core-shell coacervate, were distributed stochastically in time and space. This resulted in a transient, asymmetric configuration of propulsive units, which imparted motility to such coacervates in presence of substrate. This mechanism was confirmed by stochastic modelling and simulations in silico. Furthermore, we showed that a deeper understanding of the mechanism of stochasticity could be utilized to modulate the motion output. Conceptually, this work represents a leap in design philosophy in the construction of synthetic systems with life-like behaviors.

JTD Keywords: Cell, Cell component, Enzyme, Enzyme activity, Membrane, Philosophy, Polymer, Stochasticity, Substrate


Morgado, A, Najera, F, Lagunas, A, Samitier, J, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, (2021). Slightly congested amino terminal dendrimers. The synthesis of amide-based stable structures on a large scale Polymer Chemistry 12, 5168-5177

Nowadays, amino terminal dendrimers are appealing materials for biological applications due to their multivalence and the versatile conjugation of the amino groups. However, the high reactivity of these terminal groups can be decreased by steric hindrance, limiting their possible bioapplications. Herein, we report the divergent synthesis of slightly sterically hindered amino terminal polyamide dendrimers. A simple and unique AB(2) scaffold has been chosen to build the dendritic structures, where only amide bonds have been used as the connecting unit. The 1-7 relative positions of the amino groups in the AB(2) monomers avoid the steric congestion of the macromolecules, allowing the construction of robust dendrimers up to the fifth generation. The construction of the dendrimers is based on two well-established reactions, using simple and cheap reactants, with yields above 90% on a gram scale and easy purification procedures. This synthetic methodology constitutes an easy and efficient way for the preparation of stable and aqueous soluble dendrimers on a gram scale, representing a substantial improvement over the synthesis of this kind of aliphatic polyamide amino terminal dendrimer. The prepared structures were completely characterized and evaluated by size exclusion chromatography, diffusion ordered spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to determine their size. Molecular dynamics simulations were also carried out and the values obtained were consistent with the experimentally determined values.

JTD Keywords: Density, Discovery, Pamam dendrimers, Polymers


Rial-Hermida MI, Rey-Rico A, Blanco-Fernandez B, Carballo-Pedrares N, Byrne EM, Mano JF, (2021). Recent Progress on Polysaccharide-Based Hydrogels for Controlled Delivery of Therapeutic Biomolecules Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 7, 4102-4127

A plethora of applications using polysaccharides have been developed in recent years due to their availability as well as their frequent nontoxicity and biodegradability. These polymers are usually obtained from renewable sources or are byproducts of industrial processes, thus, their use is collaborative in waste management and shows promise for an enhanced sustainable circular economy. Regarding the development of novel delivery systems for biotherapeutics, the potential of polysaccharides is attractive for the previously mentioned properties and also for the possibility of chemical modification of their structures, their ability to form matrixes of diverse architectures and mechanical properties, as well as for their ability to maintain bioactivity following incorporation of the biomolecules into the matrix. Biotherapeutics, such as proteins, growth factors, gene vectors, enzymes, hormones, DNA/RNA, and antibodies are currently in use as major therapeutics in a wide range of pathologies. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in the development of polysaccharide-based hydrogels of diverse nature, alone or in combination with other polymers or drug delivery systems, which have been implemented in the delivery of biotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. © 2021 American Chemical Society.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable dextran hydrogels, biotherapeutics, bone morphogenetic protein-2, carrageenan-based hydrogels, chitosan-based hydrogels, controlled delivery, controlled-release, cross-linked hydrogels, growth-factor delivery, hydrogels, in-vitro characterization, polysaccharides, self-healing hydrogel, stimuli-responsiveness, tissue engineering, Antibodies, Bioactivity, Biodegradability, Biomedical fields, Biomolecules, Biotherapeutics, Chemical modification, Circular economy, Controlled delivery, Controlled drug delivery, Delivery systems, Drug delivery system, Functional polymers, Hyaluronic-acid hydrogels, Hydrogels, Industrial processs, Polysaccharides, Recent progress, Renewable sources, Stimuli-responsiveness, Targeted drug delivery, Tissue engineering, Waste management


Casellas NM, Albertazzi L, Pujals S, Torres T, García-Iglesias M, (2021). Unveiling Polymerization Mechanism in pH-regulated Supramolecular Fibers in Aqueous Media Chemistry-A European Journal 27, 11056-11060

An amine functionalized C3-symmetric benzotrithiophene (BTT) monomer has been designed and synthetized in order to form pH responsive one-dimensional supramolecular polymers in aqueous media. While most of the reported studies looked at the effect of pH on the size of the aggregates, herein, a detailed mechanistic study is reported, carried out upon modifying the pH to trigger the formation of positively charged ammonium groups. A dramatic and reversible change in the polymerization mechanism and size of the supramolecular fibers is observed and ascribed to the combination of Coulombic repulsive forces and higher monomer solubility. Furthermore, the induced frustrated growth of the fibers is further employed to finely control the one-dimensional supramolecular polymerisation and copolymerization processes.

JTD Keywords: dynamics, ph responsivity, polymerization mechanism, self-assembly, supramolecular chemistry, supramolecular polymers, Ph responsivity, Polymerization mechanism, Polymers, Self-assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular polymers


Abramov A, Maiti B, Keridou I, Puiggalí J, Reiser O, Díaz DD, (2021). A pH-Triggered Polymer Degradation or Drug Delivery System by Light-Mediated Cis/Trans Isomerization of o-Hydroxy Cinnamates Macromolecular Rapid Communications 42,

A new methodology for the pH-triggered degradation of polymers or for the release of drugs under visible light irradiation based on the cyclization of ortho-hydroxy-cinnamates (oHC) to coumarins is described. The key oHC structural motif can be readily incorporated into the rational design of novel photocleavable polymers via click chemistry. This main-chain moiety undergoes a fast photocleavage when irradiated with 455 nm light provided that a suitable base is added. A series of polyethylene glycol-alt-ortho-hydroxy cinnamate (polyethylene glycol (PEG)(n)-alt-oHC)-based polymers are synthesized and the time-dependent visible-light initiated cleavage of the photoactive monomer and polymer is investigated in solution by a variety of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. The photo-degradation behavior of the water-soluble poly(PEG(2000)-alt-oHC) is investigated within a broad pH range (pH = 2.1-11.8), demonstrating fast degradation at pH 11.8, while the stability of the polymer is greatly enhanced at pH 2.1. Moreover, the neat polymer shows long-term stability under daylight conditions, thus allowing its storage without special precautions. In addition, two water-soluble PEG-based drug-carrier molecules (mPEG(2000)-oHC-benzhydrol/phenol) are synthesized and used for drug delivery studies, monitoring the process by UV-vis spectroscopy in an ON/OFF intermittent manner.

JTD Keywords: coumarins, drug delivery, e/z-double bond isomerization, o-hydroxy cinnamates, polymer degradation, Aliphatic compounds, Antioxidant activity, Antitumor, Chromatographic techniques, Chromatography, Cis/trans isomerization, Controlled drug delivery, Coumarin derivatives, Coumarins, Drug delivery, Drug delivery system, E/z-double bond isomerization, Films, Hydrogels, Image enhancement, Light, Long term stability, O-hydroxy cinnamates, Particles, Photoactive monomers, Photodegradation, Polyethylene glycols, Polyethylenes, Polymer degradation, Responsive polymers, Salts, Structural motifs, Synthesis (chemical), Targeted drug delivery, Visible light photocatalysis, Visible-light irradiation


Fontana-Escartin A, Puiggalí-Jou A, Lanzalaco S, Bertran O, Alemán C, (2021). Manufactured Flexible Electrodes for Dopamine Detection: Integration of Conducting Polymer in 3D-Printed Polylactic Acid Advanced Engineering Materials 23,

Flexible electrochemical sensors based on electroactive materials have emerged as powerful analytical tools for biomedical applications requiring bioanalytes detection. Within this context, 3D printing is a remarkable technology for developing electrochemical devices, due to no design constraints, waste minimization, and batch manufacturing with high reproducibility. However, the fabrication of 3D printed electrodes is still limited by the in-house fabrication of conductive filaments, which requires the mixture of the electroactive material with melted of thermoplastic polymer (e.g., polylactic acid, PLA). Herein, a simple approach is presented for preparing electrochemical dopamine (DA) biosensors. Specifically, the surface of 3D-printed PLA specimens, which exhibit an elastic modulus and a tensile strength of 3.7 +/- 0.3 GPa and 47 +/- 1 MPa, respectively, is activated applying a 0.5 m NaOH solution for 30 min and, subsequently, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) is polymerized in situ using aqueous solvent. The detection of DA with the produced sensors has been demonstrated by cyclic voltammetry, differential pulse voltammetry, and chronoamperometry. In summary, the obtained results reflect that low-cost electrochemical sensors, which are widely used in medicine and biotechnology, can be rapidly fabricated using the proposed approach that, although based on additive manufacturing, does not require the preparation of conductive filaments.

JTD Keywords: 3d printers, Additive manufacturing, Amines, Batch manufacturing, Biomedical applications, Chronoamperometry, Conducting polymer, Conducting polymers, Conductive filaments, Conservation, Cyclic voltammetry, Differential pulse voltammetry, Electroactive material, Electrochemical biosensor, Electrochemical devices, Electrochemical sensors, Electrodes, Electron emission, Flexible electrode, High reproducibility, Medical applications, Neurophysiology, Poly-3 ,4-ethylenedioxythiophene, Polyesters, Polylactic aci, Sodium hydroxide, Tensile strength, Thermoplastic polymer


Olmo C, Franco L, Vidal A, Del Valle LJ, Puiggalí J, (2021). Ultrasound micromolding of porous polylactide/hydroxyapatite scaffolds Express Polymer Letters 15, 389-403

© BME-PT. Ultrasound micromolding (USM) preparation of hybrid scaffolds based on polylactide (PLA) and hydroxyapatite (HAp) particles has been evaluated. PLA was stable under the applied ultrasound source since a minimum degradation was detected. Porous materials were achieved using polyethylene glycol (PEG) and NaCl salts to the initial PLA and the subsequent leaching of the micromolded specimens. To avoid cavitation and decomposition problems during micromolding, it was necessary to use HAp free of typical synthesis impurities like carbonate and nitrate compounds. Compact PLA/HAp pieces allowed a maximum HAp load of 60 wt%, while porous specimens could be obtained with a maximum load of 38 wt%. Physical characterization of new scaffolds was performed by X-ray diffraction, spectroscopic and calorimetric techniques, stress-strain tests and contact angle measurements. Results indicated that a degree of porosity of 35% and relatively good mechanical properties could be achieved (i.e., 580 MPa, 4%, and 15.6 MPa for the Young modulus, elongation at break, and tensile strength, respectively). Scaffolds showed the positive effect of HAp and porosity on cell proliferation; this latter was 40% higher than that detected for non-porous PLA specimens.

JTD Keywords: apatite, conformation, fabrication, hydroxyapatite, micropieces, polymers, porous scaffolds, proliferation, tissue, ultrasound micromolding, vibration, Composite scaffolds, Hydroxyapatite, Micropieces, Porous scaffolds, Processing technologies, Ultrasound micromolding


Enshaei H, Puiggalí-Jou A, del Valle LJ, Turon P, Saperas N, Alemán C, (2021). Nanotheranostic Interface Based on Antibiotic-Loaded Conducting Polymer Nanoparticles for Real-Time Monitoring of Bacterial Growth Inhibition Advanced Healthcare Materials 10,

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Conducting polymers have been increasingly used as biologically interfacing electrodes for biomedical applications due to their excellent and fast electrochemical response, reversible doping–dedoping characteristics, high stability, easy processability, and biocompatibility. These advantageous properties can be used for the rapid detection and eradication of infections associated to bacterial growth since these are a tremendous burden for individual patients as well as the global healthcare system. Herein, a smart nanotheranostic electroresponsive platform, which consists of chloramphenicol (CAM)-loaded in poly(3,4-ethylendioxythiophene) nanoparticles (PEDOT/CAM NPs) for concurrent release of the antibiotic and real-time monitoring of bacterial growth is presented. PEDOT/CAM NPs, with an antibiotic loading content of 11.9 ± 1.3% w/w, are proved to inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli and Streptococcus sanguinis due to the antibiotic release by cyclic voltammetry. Furthermore, in situ monitoring of bacterial activity is achieved through the electrochemical detection of β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a redox active specie produced by the microbial metabolism that diffuse to the extracellular medium. According to these results, the proposed nanotheranostic platform has great potential for real-time monitoring of the response of bacteria to the released antibiotic, contributing to the evolution of the personalized medicine.

JTD Keywords: bacterial detection, chloramphenicol, conducting polymers, drug, drug release, electrochemical sensors, electrochemistry, electrostimulated release, mechanism, peptide, polythiophene, sensor, sulfonate, Bacterial detection, Chloramphenicol, Conducting polymers, Controlled-release, Drug release, Electrochemical sensors, Electrostimulated release, Polythiophene


Ruano G, Iribarren JI, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Torras J, Alemán C, (2021). Electrical and capacitive response of hydrogel solid-like electrolytes for supercapacitors Polymers 13,

Flexible hydrogels are attracting significant interest as solid-like electrolytes for energy storage devices, especially for supercapacitors, because of their lightweight and anti-deformation features. Here, we present a comparative study of four ionic conductive hydrogels derived from biopolymers and doped with 0.1 M NaCl. More specifically, such hydrogels are constituted by κcarrageenan (κC), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), poly-γ-glutamic acid (PGGA) or a phenylalaninecontaining polyesteramide (PEA). After examining the morphology and the swelling ratio of the four hydrogels, which varies between 483% and 2356%, their electrical and capacitive behaviors were examined using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Measurements were conducted on devices where a hydrogel film was sandwiched between two identical poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) electrodes. The bulk conductivity of the prepared doped hydrogels is 76, 48, 36 and 34 mS/cm for PEA, PGGA, κC and CMC, respectively. Overall, the polyesteramide hydrogel exhibits the most adequate properties (i.e., low electrical resistance and high capacitance) to be used as semi-solid electrolyte for supercapacitors, which has been attributed to its distinctive structure based on the homogeneous and abundant distribution of both micro-and nanopores. Indeed, the morphology of the polyestermide hydrogel reduces the hydrogel resistance, enhances the transport of ions, and results in a better interfacial contact between the electrodes and solid electrolyte. The correlation between the supercapacitor performance and the hydrogel porous morphology is presented as an important design feature for the next generation of light and flexible energy storage devices for wearable electronics.

JTD Keywords: biopolymers, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, flexible hydrogels, supercapacitor, Biopolymers, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Flexible hydrogels, Supercapacitor


Biosca A, Cabanach P, Abdulkarim M, Gumbleton M, Gómez-Canela C, Ramírez M, Bouzón-Arnáiz I, Avalos-Padilla Y, Borros S, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Zwitterionic self-assembled nanoparticles as carriers for Plasmodium targeting in malaria oral treatment Journal of Controlled Release 331, 364-375

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The current decline in antimalarial drug efficacy due to the evolution of resistant Plasmodium strains calls for new strategies capable of improving the bioavailability of antimalarials, especially of those whose lipophilic character imparts them a low solubility in biological fluids. Here we have designed, synthesized and characterized amphiphilic zwitterionic block copolymers forming nanoparticles capable of penetrating the intestinal epithelium that can be used for oral administration. Poly(butyl methacrylate-co-morpholinoethyl sulfobetaine methacrylate) (PBMA-MESBMA)-based nanoparticles exhibited a specific targeting to Plasmodium falciparum-infected vs. parasite-free red blood cells (74.8%/0.8% respectively), which was maintained upon encapsulation of the lipophilic antimalarial drug curcumin (82.6%/0.3%). The in vitro efficacy of curcumin upon encapsulation was maintained relative to the free compound, with an IC50 around 5 μM. In vivo assays indicated a significantly increased curcumin concentration in the blood of mice one hour after being orally fed PBMA-MESBMA-curcumin in comparison to the administration of free drug (18.7 vs. 2.1 ng/ml, respectively). At longer times, however, plasma curcumin concentration equaled between free and encapsulated drug, which was reflected in similar in vivo antimalarial activities in Plasmodium yoelii yoelii-infected mice. Microscopic analysis in blood samples of fluorescently labeled PBMA-MESBMA revealed the presence of the polymer inside P. yoelii yoelii-parasitized erythrocytes one hour after oral administration to infected animals.

JTD Keywords: curcumin, drug delivery, malaria, pbma-mesbma, plasmodium, zwitterionic block copolymers, Curcumin, Drug delivery, Malaria, Pbma-mesbma, Plasmodium, Zwitterionic block copolymers


Puiggalí-Jou A, Wedepohl S, Theune LE, Alemán C, Calderón M, (2021). Effect of conducting/thermoresponsive polymer ratio on multitasking nanogels Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials For Biological Applications 119,

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Semi-interpenetrated nanogels (NGs) able to release and sense diclofenac (DIC) have been designed to act as photothermal agents with the possibility to ablate cancer cells using mild-temperatures (<45 °C). Combining mild heat treatments with simultaneous chemotherapy appears as a very promising therapeutic strategy to avoid heat resistance or damaging the surrounding tissues. Particularly, NGs consisted on a poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) and dendritic polyglycerol (dPG) mesh containing a semi-interpenetrating network (SIPN) of poly(hydroxymethyl 3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHMeEDOT). The PHMeEDOT acted as photothermal and conducting agent, while PNIPAM-dPG NG provided thermoresponsivity and acted as stabilizer. We studied how semi-interpenetration modified the physicochemical characteristics of the thermoresponsive SIPN NGs and selected the best condition to generate a multifunctional photothermal agent. The thermoswitchable conductiveness of the multifunctional NGs and the redox activity of DIC could be utilized for its electrochemical detection. Besides, as proof of the therapeutic concept, we investigated the combinatorial effect of photothermal therapy (PTT) and DIC treatment using the HeLa cancer cell line in vitro. Within 15 min NIR irradiation without surpassing 45 °C we were able to kill 95% of the cells, demonstrating the potential of SIPN NGs as drug carriers, sensors and agents for mild PTT.

JTD Keywords: cells, cellulose, conducting polymers, controlled delivery, diclofenac, efficiency, electrochemical oxidation, electrochemical sensors, nanogels, nanoparticles, photothermal therapy, pnipam, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Conducting polymers, Electrochemical sensors, Nanogels, Photothermal therapy


Qamar B, Solomon M, Marin A, Fuerst TR, Andrianov AK, Muro S, (2021). Intracellular delivery of active proteins by polyphosphazene polymers Pharmaceutics 13,

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Achieving intracellular delivery of protein therapeutics within cells remains a significant challenge. Although custom formulations are available for some protein therapeutics, the development of non‐toxic delivery systems that can incorporate a variety of active protein cargo and maintain their stability, is a topic of great relevance. This study utilized ionic polyphosphazenes (PZ) that can assemble into supramolecular complexes through non‐covalent interactions with different types of protein cargo. We tested a PEGylated graft copolymer (PZ‐PEG) and a pyrrolidone containing linear derivative (PZ‐PYR) for their ability to intracellularly deliver FITC‐avidin, a model protein. In endothelial cells, PZ‐PYR/protein exhibited both faster internalization and higher uptake levels than PZ‐PEG/protein, while in cancer cells both polymers achieved similar uptake levels over time, although the internalization rate was slower for PZ‐PYR/protein. Uptake was mediated by endocytosis through multiple mechanisms, PZ‐PEG/avidin colocalized more profusely with endo-lysosomes, and PZ‐PYR/avidin achieved greater cytosolic delivery. Consequently, a PZ‐PYR-delivered anti‐F‐actin antibody was able to bind to cytosolic actin filaments without needing cell permeabilization. Similarly, a cell‐impermeable Bax‐BH3 peptide known to induce apoptosis, decreased cell viability when complexed with PZ‐PYR, demonstrating endo‐lysosomal escape. These biodegradable PZs were non‐toxic to cells and represent a promising platform for drug delivery of protein therapeutics.

JTD Keywords: cytosolic delivery, cytotoxicity, delivery of apoptotic peptides, endosomal escape, intracellular delivery of antibody, intracellular protein delivery, Cytosolic delivery, Cytotoxicity, Delivery of apoptotic peptides, Endosomal escape, Intracellular delivery of antibody, Intracellular protein delivery, Polyphosphazene polymers


Keridou I, Franco L, del Valle LJ, Martínez JC, Funk L, Turon P, Puiggalí J, (2021). Hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation of biobased poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) films. Selective etching of spherulites Polymer Degradation And Stability 183

© 2020 Hydrolytic degradation of poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) (P4HB) films has been studied considering media of different pH values (i.e., 3, 7 and 10) and temperatures (i.e., 37 and 55 °C). Enzymatic degradation has also been evaluated at physiological conditions using two different lipases: Pseudomonas cepacia and Rhizopus oryzae. Different bulk and surface erosion mechanisms with random chain scissions and successive removal of monomer units have been supported through weight loss measurements, molecular weight determinations by GPC and NMR spectroscopy and changes on thermal properties by DSC. Thermal annealing during exposure to different media and even degradation influenced on the melting temperature and crystallinity of samples, as well as on the lamellar geometrical parameters as evaluated by SAXS. Enzymatic degradation was ideal to selectively eliminate the amorphous regions and highlight the spherulitic morphology. Presence of ringed textures were therefore evident in bright field optical micrographs in addition to SEM images, namely observations under polarized light was not necessary to distinguish the presence of banded spherulites. Rhizopus oryzae was revealed to be the most suitable enzyme to crop out the P4HB spherulites that form part of the initial smooth surfaces of solvent casting films. After determining the appropriate activity and exposure time, the presence of rings constituted by cooperative C-shaped edge-on lamellae and flat-on lamellae was highlighted.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable polymers, enzymatic degradation, films, hydrolytic degradation, microstructure, thermal properties, Biodegradable polymers, Enzymatic degradation, Films, Hydrolytic degradation, Microstructure, Poly(4-hydroxybutyrate), Thermal properties


Morgese, G., de Waal, B. F. M., Varela-Aramburu, S., Palmans, A. R. A., Albertazzi, L., Meijer, E. W., (2020). Anchoring supramolecular polymers to human red blood cells by combining dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 59, (39), 17229-17233

Understanding cell/material interactions is essential to design functional cell-responsive materials. While the scientific literature abounds with formulations of biomimetic materials, only a fraction of them focused on mechanisms of the molecular interactions between cells and material. To provide new knowledge on the strategies for materials/cell recognition and binding, supramolecular benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide copolymers bearing benzoxaborole moieties are anchored on the surface of human erythrocytes via benzoxaborole/sialic-acid binding. This interaction based on both dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistries is visualized in real time by means of total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. Exploiting this imaging method, we observe that the functional copolymers specifically interact with the cell surface. An optimal fiber affinity towards the cells as a function of benzoxaborole concentration demonstrates the crucial role of multivalency in these cell/material interactions.

JTD Keywords: Boronic acid, Cell/material interactions, Multivalency, Red blood cells, Supramolecular polymers


Molina, B. G., Lopes-Rodrigues, M., Estrany, F., Michaux, C., Perpète, E. A., Armelin, E., Alemán, C., (2020). Free-standing flexible and biomimetic hybrid membranes for ions and ATP transport Journal of Membrane Science 601, 117931

The transport of metabolites across robust, flexible and free-standing biomimetic membranes made of three perforated poly (lactic acid) (pPLA) layers, separated by two anodically polymerized conducting layers of poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene-co-3-dodecylthiophene), and functionalized on the external pPLA layers with a voltage dependent anion channel (VDAC) protein, has been demonstrated. The three pPLA layers offer robustness and flexibility to the bioactive platform and the possibility of obtaining conducing polymer layers by in situ anodic polymerization. The incorporation of dodecylthiophene units, which bear a 12 carbon atoms long linear alkyl chain, to the conducting layers allows mimicking the amphiphilic environment offered by lipids in cells, increasing 32% the efficiency of the functionalization. Electrochemical impedance measurements in NaCl and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) solutions prove that the integration of the VDAC porin inside the PLA perforations considerably increases the membrane conductivity and is crucial for the electrolyte diffusion. Such results open the door for the development of advanced sensing devices for a broad panel of biomedical applications.

JTD Keywords: Conducting polymers, Membrane proteins, Membranes, Polylactic acid, Self-supported films


Moghimiardekani, A., Molina, B. G., Enshaei, H., del Valle, L. J., Pérez-Madrigal, M. M., Estrany, F., Alemán, C., (2020). Semi-interpenetrated hydrogels-microfibers electroactive assemblies for release and real-time monitoring of drugs Macromolecular Bioscience 20, (7), 2000074

Simultaneous drug release and monitoring using a single polymeric platform represents a significant advance in the utilization of biomaterials for therapeutic use. Tracking drug release by real-time electrochemical detection using the same platform is a simple way to guide the dosage of the drug, improve the desired therapeutic effect, and reduce the adverse side effects. The platform developed in this work takes advantage of the flexibility and loading capacity of hydrogels, the mechanical strength of microfibers, and the capacity of conducting polymers to detect the redox properties of drugs. The engineered platform is prepared by assembling two spin-coated layers of poly-γ-glutamic acid hydrogel, loaded with poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) microparticles, and separated by a electrospun layer of poly-ε-caprolactone microfibers. Loaded PEDOT microparticles are used as reaction nuclei for the polymerization of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHMeDOT), that semi-interpenetrate the whole three layered system while forming a dense network of electrical conduction paths. After demonstrating its properties, the platform is loaded with levofloxacin and its release monitored externally by UV–vis spectroscopy and in situ by using the PHMeDOT network. In situ real-time electrochemical monitoring of the drug release from the engineered platform holds great promise for the development of multi-functional devices for advanced biomedical applications.

JTD Keywords: Biosensors, Conducting polymers, Drug delivery, Poly-γ-glutamic acid, Poly-ε-caprolactone


Maiti, B., Abramov, A., Franco, L., Puiggalí, J., Enshaei, H., Alemán, C., Díaz, D. D., (2020). Thermoresponsive shape-memory hydrogel actuators made by phototriggered click chemistry Advanced Functional Materials 30, (24), 2001683

This article describes the design and synthesis of a new series of hydrogel membranes composed of trialkyne derivatives of glycerol ethoxylate and bisphenol A diazide (BA-diazide) or diazide-terminated PEG600 monomer via a Cu(I)-catalyzed photoclick reaction. The water-swollen hydrogel membranes display thermoresponsive actuation and their lower critical solution temperature (LCST) values are determined by differential scanning calorimetry. Glycerol ethoxylate moiety serves as the thermoresponsive component and hydrophilic part, while the azide-based component acts as the hydrophobic comonomer and most likely provides a critical hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance contributing also to the significant mechanical strength of the membranes. These hydrogels exhibit a reversible shape-memory effect in response to temperature through a defined phase transition. The swelling and deswelling behavior of the membranes are systematically examined. Due to the click nature of the reaction, easy availability of azide and alkyne functional-monomers, and the polymer architecture, the glass transition temperature (Tg) is easily controlled through monomer design and crosslink density by varying the feed ratio of different monomers. The mechanical properties of the membranes are studied by universal tensile testing measurements. Moreover, the hydrogels show the ability to absorb a dye and release it in a controlled manner by applying heat below and above the LCST.

JTD Keywords: Hydrogels, Membranes, Photoclick, Polymers, Shape-memory, Thermoresponsive


Chen, Tianchi, Callan-Jones, Andrew, Fedorov, Eduard, Ravasio, Andrea, Brugués, Agustí, Ong, Hui Ting, Toyama, Yusuke, Low, Boon Chuan, Trepat, Xavier, Shemesh, Tom, Voituriez, Raphaël, Ladoux, Benoît, (2019). Large-scale curvature sensing by directional actin flow drives cellular migration mode switching Nature Physics 15, (4), 393-402

Cell migration over heterogeneous substrates during wound healing or morphogenetic processes leads to shape changes driven by different organizations of the actin cytoskeleton and by functional changes including lamellipodial protrusions and contractile actin cables. Cells distinguish between cell-sized positive and negative curvatures in their physical environment by forming protrusions at positive curvatures and actin cables at negative curvatures; however, the cellular mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we report that concave edges promote polarized actin structures with actin flow directed towards the cell edge, in contrast to well-documented retrograde flow at convex edges. Anterograde flow and contractility induce a tension anisotropy gradient. A polarized actin network is formed, accompanied by a local polymerization–depolymerization gradient, together with leading-edge contractile actin cables in the front. These cables extend onto non-adherent regions while still maintaining contact with the substrate through focal adhesions. The contraction and dynamic reorganization of this actin structure allows forward movements enabling cell migration over non-adherent regions on the substrate. These versatile functional structures may help cells sense and navigate their environment by adapting to external geometric and mechanical cues.

JTD Keywords: Biopolymers in vivo, Cellular motility


Puiggalí-Jou, A., del Valle, L. J., Alemán, C., (2019). Drug delivery systems based on intrinsically conducting polymers Journal of Controlled Release 309, 244-264

This work provides an overview of the up to date research related to intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) and their function as novel drug delivery systems (DDSs). Drugs administrated to patients do not always reach the targeted organ, which may affect other tissues leading to undesired side-effects. To overcome these problems, DDSs are under development. Nowadays, it is possible to target the administration and, most importantly, to achieve a controlled drug dosage upon external stimuli. Particularly, the attention of this work focuses on the drug release upon electrical stimuli employing ICPs. These are well-known organic polymers with outstanding electrical properties similar to metals but also retaining some advantageous characteristics normally related to polymers, like mechanical stability and easiness of processing. Depending on the redox state, ICPs can incorporate or release anionic or cationic molecules on-demand. Besides, the releasing rate can be finely tuned by the type of electrical stimulation applied. Another interesting feature is that ICPs are capable to sense redox molecules such as dopamine, serotonin or ascorbic acid among others. Therefore, future prospects go towards the design of materials where the releasing rate could be self-adjusted in response to changes in the surrounding environment. This recompilation of ideas and projects provides a critic outline of ICPs synthesis progress related to their use as DDSs. Definitely, ICPs are a very promising branch of DDSs where the dose can be finely tuned by the exertion of an external stimulus, hence optimizing the repercussions of the drug and diminishing its side effects.

JTD Keywords: Controlled release, DDS, Drug delivery, Electrical stimuli, ICP, Intrinsically conducting polymers


Gouveia, Virgínia M., Rizzello, Loris, Nunes, Claudia, Poma, Alessandro, Ruiz-Perez, Lorena, Oliveira, António, Reis, Salette, Battaglia, Giuseppe, (2019). Macrophage targeting pH responsive polymersomes for glucocorticoid therapy Pharmaceutics 11, (11), 614

Glucocorticoid (GC) drugs are the cornerstone therapy used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases. Here, we report pH responsive poly(2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine)–poly(2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PMPC–PDPA) polymersomes as a suitable nanoscopic carrier to precisely and controllably deliver GCs within inflamed target cells. The in vitro cellular studies revealed that polymersomes ensure the stability, selectivity and bioavailability of the loaded drug within macrophages. At molecular level, we tested key inflammation-related markers, such as the nuclear factor-κB, tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and interleukin-6. With this, we demonstrated that pH responsive polymersomes are able to enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of loaded GC drug. Overall, we prove the potential of PMPC–PDPA polymersomes to efficiently promote the inflammation shutdown, while reducing the well-known therapeutic limitations in GC-based therapy.

JTD Keywords: Inflammation, Macrophages, Glucocorticoid, Polymersomes


Martí Coma-Cros, E., Biosca, A., Marques, J., Carol, L., Urbán, P., Berenguer, D., Riera, M. C., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Pérez, P., Paaijmans, K., Rottmann, M., Manfredi, A., Ferruti, P., Ranucci, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Polyamidoamine nanoparticles for the oral administration of antimalarial drugs Pharmaceutics 10, (4), 225

Current strategies for the mass administration of antimalarial drugs demand oral formulations to target the asexual Plasmodium stages in the peripheral bloodstream, whereas recommendations for future interventions stress the importance of also targeting the transmission stages of the parasite as it passes between humans and mosquitoes. Orally administered polyamidoamine (PAA) nanoparticles conjugated to chloroquine reached the blood circulation and cured Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice, slightly improving the activity of the free drug and inducing in the animals immunity against malaria. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry analysis of affinity chromatography-purified PAA ligands suggested a high adhesiveness of PAAs to Plasmodium falciparum proteins, which might be the mechanism responsible for the preferential binding of PAAs to Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes vs. non-infected red blood cells. The weak antimalarial activity of some PAAs was found to operate through inhibition of parasite invasion, whereas the observed polymer intake by macrophages indicated a potential of PAAs for the treatment of certain coinfections such as Plasmodium and Leishmania. When fluorescein-labeled PAAs were fed to females of the malaria mosquito vectors Anopheles atroparvus and Anopheles gambiae, persistent fluorescence was observed in the midgut and in other insect’s tissues. These results present PAAs as a versatile platform for the encapsulation of orally administered antimalarial drugs and for direct administration of antimalarials to mosquitoes, targeting mosquito stages of Plasmodium.

JTD Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Beun, L. H., Albertazzi, L., Van Der Zwaag, D., De Vries, R., Cohen Stuart, M. A., (2016). Unidirectional living growth of self-assembled protein nanofibrils revealed by super-resolution microscopy ACS Nano 10, (5), 4973-4980

Protein-based nanofibrils are emerging as a promising class of materials that provide unique properties for applications such as biomedical and food engineering. Here, we use atomic force microscopy and stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy imaging to elucidate the growth dynamics, exchange kinetics, and polymerization mechanism for fibrils composed of a de novo designed recombinant triblock protein polymer. This macromolecule features a silk-inspired self-assembling central block composed of GAGAGAGH repeats, which are known to fold into a β roll with turns at each histidine and, once folded, to stack, forming a long, ribbon-like structure. We find several properties that allow the growth of patterned protein nanofibrils: the self-assembly takes place on only one side of the growing fibrils by the essentially irreversible addition of protein polymer subunits, and these fibril ends remain reactive indefinitely in the absence of monomer ("living ends"). Exploiting these characteristics, we can grow stable diblock protein nanofibrils by the sequential addition of differently labeled proteins. We establish control over the block length ratio by simply varying monomer feed conditions. Our results demonstrate the use of engineered protein polymers in creating precisely patterned protein nanofibrils and open perspectives for the hierarchical self-assembly of functional biomaterials.

JTD Keywords: Nanofibrils, Protein polymers, Self-assembly, STORM microscopy


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Novel strategies for Plasmodium-targeted drug delivery Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery , 13, (7), 919-922

Credi, C., De Marco, C., Molena, E., Pla Roca, M., Samitier, J., Marques, J., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Levi, M., Turri, S., (2016). Heparin micropatterning onto fouling-release perfluoropolyether-based polymers via photobiotin activation Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 146, 250-259

A simple method for constructing versatile ordered biotin/avidin arrays on UV-curable perfluoropolyethers (PFPEs) is presented. The goal is the realization of a versatile platform where any biotinylated biological ligands can be further linked to the underlying biotin/avidin array. To this end, microcontact arrayer and microcontact printing technologies were developed for photobiotin direct printing on PFPEs. As attested by fluorescence images, we demonstrate that this photoactive form of biotin is capable of grafting onto PFPEs surfaces during irradiation. Bioaffinity conjugation of the biotin/avidin system was subsequently exploited for further self-assembly avidin family proteins onto photobiotin arrays. The excellent fouling release PFPEs surface properties enable performing avidin assembly step simply by arrays incubation without PFPEs surface passivation or chemical modification to avoid unspecific biomolecule adsorption. Finally, as a proof of principle biotinylated heparin was successfully grafted onto photobiotin/avidin arrays.

JTD Keywords: Antifouling, Heparin, Malaria, Microcontact arrayer, Microcontact printing, Micropatterning, Perfluoropolyether, Photobiotin, Polymers, Soft lithography


Andrade, F., Fonte, P., Oliva, M., Videira, M., Ferreira, D., Sarmento, B., (2015). Solid state formulations composed by amphiphilic polymers for delivery of proteins: Characterization and stability International Journal of Pharmaceutics 486, (1-2), 195-206

Abstract Nanocomposite powders composed by polymeric micelles as vehicles for delivery proteins were developed in this work, using insulin as model protein. Results showed that size and polydispersity of micelles were dependent on the amphiphilic polymer used, being all lower than 300 nm, while all the formulations displayed spherical shape and surface charge close to neutrality. Percentages of association efficiency and loading capacity up to 94.15 ± 3.92 and 8.56 ± 0.36, respectively, were obtained. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements confirmed that insulin was partially present at the hydrophilic shell of the micelles. Lyophilization did not significantly change the physical characteristics of micelles, further providing easily dispersion when in contact to aqueous medium. The native-like conformation of insulin was maintained at high percentages (around 80%) after lyophilization as indicated by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and far-UV circular dichroism (CD). Moreover, Raman spectroscopy did not evidenced significant interactions among the formulation components. The formulations shown to be physically stable upon storage up to 6 months both at room-temperature (20 C) and fridge (4 C), with only a slight loss (maximum of 15%) of the secondary structure of the protein. Among the polymers tested, Pluronic® F127 produced the carrier formulations more promising for delivery of proteins.

JTD Keywords: Amphiphilic polymers, Insulin, Lyophilization, Polymeric micelles, Stability


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery , 5, (10), 1049-1052

Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

JTD Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Mir, M., Lugo, R., Tahirbegi, I. B., Samitier, J., (2014). Miniaturizable ion-selective arrays based on highly stable polymer membranes for biomedical applications Sensors 14, (7), 11844-11854

Poly(vinylchloride) (PVC) is the most common polymer matrix used in the fabrication of ion-selective electrodes (ISEs). However, the surfaces of PVC-based sensors have been reported to show membrane instability. In an attempt to overcome this limitation, here we developed two alternative methods for the preparation of highly stable and robust ion-selective sensors. These platforms are based on the selective electropolymerization of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), where the sulfur atoms contained in the polymer covalently interact with the gold electrode, also permitting controlled selective attachment on a miniaturized electrode in an array format. This platform sensor was improved with the crosslinking of the membrane compounds with poly(ethyleneglycol) diglycidyl ether (PEG), thus also increasing the biocompatibility of the sensor. The resulting ISE membranes showed faster signal stabilization of the sensor response compared with that of the PVC matrix and also better reproducibility and stability, thus making these platforms highly suitable candidates for the manufacture of robust implantable sensors.

JTD Keywords: Biomedicine, Electrochemistry, Endoscope, Implantable device, Ion-selective electrode (ISE) sensor, Ischemia, pH detection, Biocompatibility, Chemical sensors, Electrochemistry, Electrodes, Electropolymerization, Endoscopy, Functional polymers, Implants (surgical), Ion selective electrodes, Medical applications, Polyvinyl chlorides, Stabilization, Biomedical applications, Biomedicine, Implantable devices, Ion selective sensors, Ischemia, Membrane instability, pH detection, Poly(3 ,4 ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), Ion selective membranes


Torrent-Burgués, J., Cea, P., Giner, I., Guaus, E., (2014). Characterization of Langmuir and Langmuir-Blodgett films of an octasubstituted zinc phthalocyanine Thin Solid Films , 556, 485-494

In this work we report the fabrication of Langmuir and Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) films of a substituted ZnPc (octakis(oxyoctyl)phthalocyanine of zinc), and their characterization by means of several techniques. These characterization techniques include surface pressure (π-A) and surface potential (ΔV-A) isotherms as well as UV-vis Reflection spectroscopy and Brewster Angle Microscopy (BAM) for the films at the air-water interface together with UV-vis absorption and IR spectroscopies and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) for the LB films. The π-A and ΔV-A isotherms and BAM images indicate a phase transition at a surface pressure of ca. 9 mN/m and a multilayer formation at surface pressures around 19-20 mN/m; at a surface pressure around 27 mN/m a disordered collapse of the film occurs. In addition, AFM images of LB films at π = 10 mN/m and π = 20 mN/m show a monomolecular and a multilayered film, respectively. The comparison of the UV-vis spectrum of ZnPc in solution, the reflection spectra of the Langmuir films and UV-vis spectra of LB films reveals a significant reduction in the Q band intensity for the films, indicative of an organization of ZnPc in the Langmuir and LB films versus the random distribution in solution. The UV-vis Reflection spectra are also consistent with multilayer formation at surface pressures around 19-20 mN/m. The relative intensities of the IR spectrum bands change from the KBr pellet to the LB film which is also attributable to orientation effects in the film. Cyclic voltammetric experiments of LB films incorporating the ZnPc derivative show peaks that can be correlated with redox processes occurring in the phthalocyanine ring. A small but significant influence of the surface pressure and the number of deposited layers in the electrochemical behaviour is observed. The electrochemical response of cast films exhibits some differences with respect to that of LB films which have been attributed to their different molecular organizations.

JTD Keywords: Atomic Force Microscopy, Electrochemistry, Langmuir-Blodgett, Multilayers, Optical spectroscopy techniques, Zinc phthalocyanine, Atomic force microscopy, Electrochemistry, Interfaces (materials), Isotherms, Multilayers, Nitrogen compounds, Optical multilayers, Organic polymers, Zinc compounds, Brewster angle microscopy, Characterization techniques, Electrochemical behaviour, Langmuir and langmuir-blodgett films, Langmuir-blodgett, Optical spectroscopy techniques, UV-Vis Reflection Spectroscopy, Zinc phthalocyanines, Langmuir Blodgett films


Ziyatdinov, A., Diaz, E. Fernández, Chaudry, A., Marco, S., Persaud, K., Perera, A., (2013). A software tool for large-scale synthetic experiments based on polymeric sensor arrays Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 177, 596-604

This manuscript introduces a software tool that allows for the design of synthetic experiments in machine olfaction. The proposed software package includes both, a virtual sensor array that reproduces the diversity and response of a polymer array and tools for data generation. The synthetic array of sensors allows for the generation of chemosensor data with a variety of characteristics: unlimited number of sensors, support of multicomponent gas mixtures and full parametric control of the noise in the system. The artificial sensor array is inspired from a reference database of seventeen polymeric sensors with concentration profiles for three analytes. The main features in the sensor data, like sensitivity, diversity, drift and sensor noise, are captured by a set of models under simplified assumptions. The generator of sensor signals can be used in applications related to test and benchmarking of signal processing methods, neuromorphic simulations in machine olfaction and educational tools. The software is implemented in R language and can be freely accessed.

JTD Keywords: Gas Sensor Array, Conducting Polymers, Electronic Nose, Sensor Simulation, Synthetic Dataset, Benchmark, Educational Tool


Marco, S., Gutiérrez-Gálvez, A., Lansner, A., Martinez, D., Rospars, J. P., Beccherelli, R., Perera, A., Pearce, T., Vershure, P., Persaud, K., (2013). Biologically inspired large scale chemical sensor arrays and embedded data processing Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering Smart Sensors, Actuators, and MEMS VI , SPIE Digital Library (Grenoble, France) 8763, 1-15

Biological olfaction outperforms chemical instrumentation in specificity, response time, detection limit, coding capacity, time stability, robustness, size, power consumption, and portability. This biological function provides outstanding performance due, to a large extent, to the unique architecture of the olfactory pathway, which combines a high degree of redundancy, an efficient combinatorial coding along with unmatched chemical information processing mechanisms. The last decade has witnessed important advances in the understanding of the computational primitives underlying the functioning of the olfactory system. EU Funded Project NEUROCHEM (Bio-ICT-FET- 216916) has developed novel computing paradigms and biologically motivated artefacts for chemical sensing taking inspiration from the biological olfactory pathway. To demonstrate this approach, a biomimetic demonstrator has been built featuring a large scale sensor array (65K elements) in conducting polymer technology mimicking the olfactory receptor neuron layer, and abstracted biomimetic algorithms have been implemented in an embedded system that interfaces the chemical sensors. The embedded system integrates computational models of the main anatomic building blocks in the olfactory pathway: The olfactory bulb, and olfactory cortex in vertebrates (alternatively, antennal lobe and mushroom bodies in the insect). For implementation in the embedded processor an abstraction phase has been carried out in which their processing capabilities are captured by algorithmic solutions. Finally, the algorithmic models are tested with an odour robot with navigation capabilities in mixed chemical plumes.

JTD Keywords: Antennal lobes, Artificial olfaction, Computational neuroscience, Olfactory bulbs, Plume tracking, Abstracting, Actuators, Algorithms, Biomimetic processes, Chemical sensors, Conducting polymers, Data processing, Flavors, Odors, Robots, Smart sensors, Embedded systems


Tejeda-Montes, E., Smith, K. H., Poch, M., López-Bosque, M. J., Martín, L., Alonso, M., Engel, E., Mata, Alvaro., (2012). Engineering membrane scaffolds with both physical and biomolecular signaling Acta Biomaterialia 8, (3), 998-1009

We report on the combination of a top-down and bottom-up approach to develop thin bioactive membrane scaffolds based on functional elastin-like polymers (ELPs). Our strategy combines ELP cross-linking and assembly, and a variety of standard and novel micro/nanofabrication techniques to create self-supporting membranes down to ∼500 nm thick that incorporate both physical and biomolecular signals, which can be easily tailored for a specific application. In this study we used an ELP that included the cell-binding motif arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine (RGDS). Furthermore, fabrication processes were developed to create membranes that exhibited topographical patterns with features down to 200 nm in lateral dimensions and up to 10 μm in height on either one or both sides, uniform and well-defined pores, or multiple ELP layers. A variety of processing parameters were tested in order to optimize membrane fabrication, including ELP and cross-linker concentration, temperature, reaction time and ambient humidity. Membrane micro/nanopatterning, swelling and stiffness were characterized by atomic force microscopy, nanoindentation tests and scanning electron microscopy. Upon immersion in phosphate-buffered saline and an increase in temperature from 25 to 40°C, membranes exhibited a significant increase in surface stiffness, with the reduced Young's modulus increasing with temperature. Finally, rat mesenchymal stem cells were cultured on thin RGDS-containing membranes, which allowed cell adhesion, qualitatively enhanced spreading compared to membranes without RGDS epitopes and permitted proliferation. Furthermore, cell morphology was drastically affected by topographical patterns on the surface of the membranes.

JTD Keywords: Elastin-like polymers, Membranes, Nanotechnology, Scaffolds, Tissue engineering


Michiardi, A., Helary, G., Nguyen, P. C. T., Gamble, L. J., Anagnostou, F., Castner, D. G., Migonney, V., (2010). Bioactive polymer grafting onto titanium alloy surfaces Acta Biomaterialia 6, (2), 667-675

Bioactive polymers bearing sulfonate (styrene sodium sulfonate, NaSS) and carboxylate (methylacrylic acid, MA) groups were grafted onto Ti6Al4V alloy surfaces by a two-step procedure. The Ti alloy surfaces were first chemically oxidized in a piranha solution and then directly subjected to radical polymerization at 70 °C in the absence of oxygen. The grafted surfaces were characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) and the toluidine blue colorimetric method. Toluidine blue results showed 1-5 μg cm-2 of polymer was grafted onto the oxidized Ti surfaces. Grafting resulted in a decrease in the XPS Ti and O signals from the underlying Ti substrate and a corresponding increase in the XPS C and S signals from the polymer layer. The ToF-SIMS intensities of the S- and SO- ions correlated linearly with the XPS atomic percent S concentrations and the ToF-SIMS intensity of the TiO3H2- ion correlated linearly with the XPS atomic per cent Ti concentration. Thus, the ToF-SIMS S-, SO- and TiO3H2- intensities can be used to quantify the composition and amount of grafted polymer. ToF-SIMS also detected ions that were more characteristic of the polymer molecular structure (C6H4SO3- and C8H7SO3- from NaSS, C4H5O2- from MA), but the intensity of these peaks depended on the polymer thickness and composition. An in vitro cell culture test was carried out with human osteoblast-like cells to assess the influence of the grafted polymers on cell response. Cell adhesion after 30 min of incubation showed significant differences between the grafted and ungrafted surfaces. The NaSS grafted surfaces showed the highest degree of cell adhesion while the MA-NaSS grafted surfaces showed the lowest degree of cell adhesion. After 4 weeks in vivo in rabbit femoral bones, bone was observed to be in direct contact with all implants. The percentage of mineralized tissue around the implants was similar for NaSS grafted and non-grafted implants (59% and 57%). The MA-NaSS grafted implant exhibited a lower amount of mineralized tissue (47%).

JTD Keywords: Bioactive polymers, Osteointegration, Titanium alloy, ToF-SIMS, XPS


Toromanov, Georgi, González-García, Cristina, Altankov, George, Salmerón-Sánchez, Manuel, (2010). Vitronectin activity on polymer substrates with controlled -OH density Polymer 51, (11), 2329-2336

Vitronectin (VN) adsorption on a family of model substrates consisting of copolymers of ethyl acrylate and hydroxyl ethylacrylate in different ratios (to obtain a controlled surface density of -OH groups) was investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). It is shown that the fraction of the substrate covered by the protein depends strongly on the amount of hydroxyl groups in the sample and it monotonically decreases as the -OH density increases. Isolated globular-like VN molecules are observed on the surfaces with the higher OH density. As the fraction of hydroxyl groups decreases, aggregates of 3-5 VN molecules are observed on the sample. Overall cell morphology, focal adhesion formation and actin cytoskeleton development are investigated to assess the biological activity of the adsorbed VN on the different surfaces. Dermal fibroblast cells show excellent material interaction on the more hydrophobic samples (OH contents lower than 0.5), which reveals enhanced VN activity on this family of substrates as compared with other extracellular matrix proteins (e.g., fibronectin and fibrinogen).

JTD Keywords: Copolymers, Vitronectin, AFM, Self-assembled monolayers, Cell-adhesion, Thermal transitions, Protein adsorption, Surfaces, Fibronectin, Biomaterials, Attachment, Fibrinogen


Fumagalli, L., Gramse, G., Esteban-Ferrer, D., Edwards, M. A., Gomila, G., (2010). Quantifying the dielectric constant of thick insulators using electrostatic force microscopy Applied Physics Letters , 96, (18), 183107

Quantitative measurement of the low-frequency dielectric constants of thick insulators at the nanoscale is demonstrated utilizing ac electrostatic force microscopy combined with finite-element calculations based on a truncated cone with hemispherical apex probe geometry. The method is validated on muscovite mica, borosilicate glass, poly(ethylene naphthalate), and poly(methyl methacrylate). The dielectric constants obtained are essentially given by a nanometric volume located at the dielectric-air interface below the tip, independently of the substrate thickness, provided this is on the hundred micrometer-length scale, or larger.

JTD Keywords: Borosilicate glasses, Finite element analysis, Insulating thin films, Mica, Nanostructured materials, Permittivity, Polymers, Scanning probe microscopy


Kirchhof, K., Hristova, K., Krasteva, N., Altankov, G., Groth, T., (2009). Multilayer coatings on biomaterials for control of MG-63 osteoblast adhesion and growth Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine , 20, (4), 897-907

Here, the layer-by-layer technique (LbL) was used to modify glass as model biomaterial with multilayers of chitosan and heparin to control the interaction with MG-63 osteoblast-like cells. Different pH values during multilayer formation were applied to control their physico-chemical properties. In the absence of adhesive proteins like plasma fibronectin (pFN) both plain layers were rather cytophobic. Hence, the preadsorption of pFN was used to enhance cell adhesion which was strongly dependent on pH. Comparing the adhesion promoting effects of pFN with an engineered repeat of the FN III fragment and collagen I which both lack a heparin binding domain it was found that multilayers could bind pFN specifically because only this protein was capable of promoting cell adhesion. Multilayer surfaces that inhibited MG-63 adhesion did also cause a decreased cell growth in the presence of serum, while an enhanced adhesion of cells was connected to an improved cell growth.

JTD Keywords: Cell-adhesion, Polyelectrolyte multilayers, Substratum chemistry, Surface-properties, Fibroblast-growth, Fibronectin, Polymers, Chitosan, Polysaccharides, Wettability


Mateos-Timoneda, M. A., (2009). Polymers for bone repair Bone repair biomaterials (ed. Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., Best, S., Merolli, A.), Woodhead (Cambridge, UK) , 3-24

A fundamental aspect of the rapidly expanding medical care sector, bone repair continues to benefit from emerging technological developments. This text provides researchers and students with a comprehensive review of the materials science and engineering principles behind these developments. The first part reviews the fundamentals of bone repair and regeneration. Further chapters discuss the science and properties of biomaterials used in bone repair, including both metals and biocomposites. Final chapters analyze device considerations such as implant lifetime and failure, and discuss potential applications, as well as the ethical issues that continually confront researchers and clinicians.

JTD Keywords: Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), Acrylic polymers as bone cement, Biodegradable polymers


Navarro, M., Benetti, E. M., Zapotoczny, S., Planell, J. A., Vancso, G. J., (2008). Buried, covalently attached RGD peptide motifs in poly(methacrylic acid) brush layers: The effect of brush structure on cell adhesion Langmuir 24, (19), 10996-11002

Iniferter-mediated surface-initiated photopolymerization was used to graft poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) brush layers obtained from surface-attached iniferters in self-assembled monolayers to a gold surface. The tethered chains were subsequently functionalized with the cell-adhesive arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif. The modified brushes were extended by reinitiating the polymerization to obtain an additional layer of PMAA, thereby burying the peptide-functionalized segments inside the brush structure. Contact angle measurements and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy were employed to characterize the wettability and the chemical properties of these platforms. Time of flight secondary ion mass spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS) measurements were performed to monitor the chemical composition of the polymer layer as a function of the distance to the gold surface and obtain information concerning the depth of the RGD motifs inside the brush structure. The brush thickness was evaluated as a function of the polymerization (i.e.. UV-irradiation) time with atomic force microscopy (AFM) and ellipsometry. Cell adhesion tests employing human osteoblasts were performed on substrates with the RGD peptides exposed at the surface as well as covered by a PMAA top brush layer. Immunofluorescence studies demonstrated a variation of the cell morphology as a function of the position of the peptide units along the grafted chains.

JTD Keywords: Ion mass-spectrometry, Transfer radical polymerization, Asymmetric diblock copolymers, Arg-gly-asp, Swelling behaviour, Endothelial-cells, Thin-films, fibronectin, Surfaces, SIMS


Charles-Harris, M., Koch, M. A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., (2008). A PLA/calcium phosphate degradable composite material for bone tissue engineering: an in vitro study Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine , 19, (4), 1503-1513

Biodegradable polymers reinforced with an inorganic phase such as calcium phosphate glasses may be a promising approach to fulfil the challenging requirements presented by 3D porous scaffolds for tissue engineering. Scaffolds' success depends mainly on their biological behaviour. This work is aimed to the in vitro study of polylactic acid (PLA)/CaP glass 3D porous constructs for bone regeneration. The scaffolds were elaborated using two different techniques, namely solvent-casting and phase-separation. The effect of scaffolds' micro and macrostructure on the biological response of these scaffolds was assayed. Cell proliferation, differentiation and morphology within the scaffolds were studied. Furthermore, polymer/glass scaffolds were seeded under dynamic conditions in a custom-made perfusion bioreactor. Results indicate that the final architecture of the solvent-cast or phase separated scaffolds have a significant effect on cells' behaviour. Solvent-cast scaffolds seem to be the best candidates for bone tissue engineering. Besides, dynamic seeding yielded a higher seeding efficiency in comparison with the static method.

JTD Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Bone and Bones/ metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/ chemistry, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Humans, Lactic Acid/ chemistry, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Osteoblasts/metabolism, Permeability, Polymers/ chemistry, Porosity, Solvents/chemistry, Tissue Engineering/ methods


Koch, M. A., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Lacroix, D., (2008). Cell seeding and characterisation of PLA/glass composite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Journal of Biomechanics 16th Congress, European Society of Biomechanics , Elsevier (Lucerne, Switzerland) 41, (Supplement 1), S162

In this study polymer-glass composite scaffolds were characterized by permeability and porosity, two important properties for the use in perfusion bioreactors. These scaffolds were seeded with osteoblast-like cells to assess the efficiency of the used bioreactor. The used PLA/glass composite scaffolds are adequate for the perfusion culture. The high porosity and pore interconnectivity allow an even cell distribution and incorporation of a high cell number. For optimisation of the perfusion bioreactor system, further research has to be dedicated to the cell seeding and culture.

JTD Keywords: Biomedical materials, Bioreactors, Bone, Cellular biophysics, Composite materials, Orthopaedics, Permeability, Polymers, Porosity, Porous materials, Tissue engineering