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Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Project D: Synthesis of in-situ albumin binding surfaces.

In a related but a parallel project, we are testing the hypothesis that the blood-biocompatibility of biomaterials is at least in part dependent on the adsorption of specific plasma proteins, namely albumin. The strategy that underlies our investigation involves the in-situ creation of a layer of albumin as a “barrier protein cover” on material surfaces. A thin layer of albumin has been reported to minimize the adhesion and aggregation of platelets and thus address the problem of the chaotic adsorption of proteins to medical devices. While the basic premise is to prepare biofunctionalized self assembled monolayers, our contribution in this area involves the preparation of surfaces where the quantity and pattern of protein adsorption can be correlated with platelet adsorption, morphology, markers for platelet activation and finally clotting parameters. For example, panel-A in figure 6 shows the platelet morphology on control surfaces and it resembles a morphology characteristic of activated platelets. Also, note high number of adhered platelets in panel-A (figure-1). In contrast, the in-situ albumin binding surfaces prepared in my laboratory have significantly lower number of adhered platelets (panel B, figure-1) and more importantly, platelets morphology is disc-shaped/rounded, characteristic of non-activated platelets.

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Figure 1: Platelet adsorption on [A] control surface and [B] bio-functionalized surfaces prepared at UNL, with in-situ albumin adsorption feature.

In the broad area of tissue engineering, and as it applies to the generation of tissue engineered neo-cartilage, I am particularly interested in the following two research areas: (1) enhancement of biomaterial functionality and (2) designing cell instructive environments.