Finding the right mix: A biomaterial blend library

October 27, 2006
Finding the right mix: A biomaterial blend library
Series of microscopic images shows the influence of biomaterial blends on cell shape and adhesion properties. Images show the changes in actin (red), a structural protein related to cell shape, and vinculin (green), a protein used in cell adhesion for pure and blended samples of poly(DTE carbonate) and poly(DTO carbonate). (a) Pure DTE, (b) 50/50 DTE/DTO, (c) 30/70 DTE/DTO, (d) Pure DTO.

From dental implants to hip replacements, biomaterials have become big business. But scientists pursuing this modern medical revolution share a basic challenge: biocompatibility. How will a biomaterial on the lab bench actually work inside the human body? Will a patient accept the new material or suffer an inflammatory response? And can that material survive in a human's complex system?

To tackle such questions, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials (NJCB) at Rutgers University have developed new methods to analyze the interactions between cells and biomaterials. Their work could lead to inexpensive techniques for building better biomaterials.

Polymers derived from the amino acid tyrosine make up a broad class of degradable biomaterials under investigation. Such materials provide a temporary scaffold for cells to grow and tissue to regenerate. In a 2006 study presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in September, the researchers analyzed how two types of model cells--immune cells known as macrophages and bone cells known as osteoblasts--responded to changes in the composition of thin films made of these tyrosine-derived polymers. In practice, many biomaterials are made from blends of polymers to achieve specific material properties.

Optimizing the blend composition is often a difficult and time-consuming task. As the blends gained a higher or lower proportion of a respective material, the cells around them react by changing shape, ultimately increasing or decreasing contact with the films. In the body, such cell-material dynamics are critically important to the outcome--determining whether a biomaterial leads to inflammation or abnormal cell growth, for example.

The new study represents an innovative line of research. Working with NJCB, NIST scientists have developed a method for constructing "scaffold libraries" --collections of biomaterial scaffolds made from controlled polymer blend compositions. The library currently contains scaffolds made from blends of poly(DTE carbonate) and poly(DTO carbonate). Ultimately, Becker says, the goal is to develop rapid, inexpensive methods to predict the behavior in the body of any of thousands of possible tyrosine-derived blends.

Citation: L.O. Bailey, M.L. Becker et al. Cellular responses to phase-separated blends of tyrosine-derived polycarbonates. Journal of Biomed. Mater. Res. Part A. March 1, 2006.

Source: NIST

Explore further: Nanocellulose in medicine and green manufacturing

Related Stories

Nanocellulose in medicine and green manufacturing

November 7, 2016

What if you could take one of the most abundant natural materials on earth and harness its strength to lighten the heaviest of objects, to replace synthetic materials, or use it in scaffolding to grow bone, in a fast-growing ...

New 3-D Test Method for Biomaterials 'Flat Out' Faster

April 29, 2008

A novel, three-dimensional (3-D) screening method for analyzing interactions between cells and new biomaterials could cut initial search times by more than half, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology ...

Antioxidant biomaterial promotes healing

July 24, 2014

When a foreign material like a medical device or surgical implant is put inside the human body, the body always responds. According to Northwestern University's Guillermo Ameer, most of the time, that response can be negative ...

Addition of pectin molecules strengthens silk biomaterials

April 25, 2014

The human body has limited ability to self-repair damage to cartilage or bone. Implantable 'bioscaffold' materials that can be seeded with cells can potentially be used to regenerate these critical tissues. One such biomaterial ...

Recommended for you

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

New method for studying individual defects in transistors

December 6, 2016

Scientists from the University of Twente's MESA+ Research Institute have developed a method for studying individual defects in transistors. All computer chips, which are each made up of huge numbers of transistors, contain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.