Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

August 28, 2014
Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials
Improving cell adhesion to biomaterials is crucial for the development of implanted neural prostheses such as cochlear implants. Credit: Wikimedia

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful in improving cell adhesiveness to biomaterials.

Isolating nerve cells from their original organism and culturing them in the laboratory has long been used as a method to study brain metabolism. It has been challenging, however, to provide brain cell cultures with the necessary "adhesion promoters" that facilitate cell attachment, spreading, growth and morphological development.

Improving to biomaterials is also a major challenge in nerve tissue engineering and is crucial for the development of implanted neural prostheses, such as cochlear implants, and biosensors, such as blood glucose biosensors.

Coating the surfaces of negatively charged cell membranes with positively charged promotes nerve adhesion and extension in laboratory settings. Most synthetic proteins, however, are toxic to living cells and thus need to be washed off before cell suspensions are spread onto a new plate. They are also unsuitable for applications that are used inside a living organism.

Within the central nervous system, extracellular matrix substances such as collagen and laminin promote the regeneration, differentiation, adhesion and migration of nerve fibers.

A protein sequence found in collagen and laminin has been identified as the minimum sequence that can mediate the adhesion of many cell types, including .

AGMA1 is a basic synthetic protein that is biocompatible, water soluble, positively charged, and has a similar to that found in collagen and laminin. It is much less toxic to living cells than conventionally used synthetic proteins. AGMA1 is also much easier to prepare on a large scale using relatively low-cost materials. As a result it is much cheaper.

University of Milan scientists tested the potential of AGMA1 to promote the , proliferation, and differentiation of primary in the laboratory.

Different primary cell types from rat brain were cultured on AGMA1, and the results compared with those of cultured under the same conditions on conventional substrates using other commonly used synthetic proteins. All experimental results showed that the performance of AGMA1 in this respect was comparable to that of conventional substrates.

Explore further: Synthetic collagen promotes natural clotting

More information: "A soluble biocompatible guanidine-containing polyamidoamine as promoter of primary brain cell adhesion and in vitro cell culturing." Noemi Tonna, et al. 2014 Sci. Technol. Adv. Mater. 15 045007 DOI: 10.1088/1468-6996/15/4/045007

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A new form of real gold, almost as light as air

November 25, 2015

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created a new type of foam made of real gold. It is the lightest form ever produced of the precious metal: a thousand times lighter than its conventional form and yet it is nearly impossible ...

New 'self-healing' gel makes electronics more flexible

November 25, 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the ...

Getting under the skin of a medieval mystery

November 23, 2015

A simple PVC eraser has helped an international team of scientists led by bioarchaeologists at the University of York to resolve the mystery surrounding the tissue-thin parchment used by medieval scribes to produce the first ...

Atom-sized craters make a catalyst much more active

November 24, 2015

Bombarding and stretching an important industrial catalyst opens up tiny holes on its surface where atoms can attach and react, greatly increasing its activity as a promoter of chemical reactions, according to a study by ...


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.