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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.

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

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.

Keywords: Biopolymers in vivo, Cellular motility

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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%).

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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