Programmable Nanostructured Biomaterials for Neuronal Growth
Figure 1. (A) Nanogel particles functionalized with (B) amine, thiol and copper chelating groups (vinylbenzyl-iminodiacetic acid, VBIDA). (C) VBIDA at different surface concentrations, enabling binding of histidine-containing peptides. (Di-iii) patterned RGDS at no (i), high (ii), or medium concentration (iii).
Developing materials that can direct cellular behavior such as growth, differentiation and cell-cell communication is an area of active biomedical research. For example, restoring injured nerve tissue may be achieved via interface with synthetic biomaterials, that can be actively directed via external stimuli to yield desirable cellular response.
Based on the fact that the factors affecting cellular behavior (cell-surface receptors, carbohydrate clusters, lipid rafts) are mostly organized at nanoscale, we will develop novel hydrogel nanoparticles with topological chemical and biological attributes. These smart attributes upon presentation on a nanometer scale, would interact with neuronal cells causing changes in cellular behavior. Once synthesized, we will examine axon extension in neurons interfaced with these nanostructured biomaterials as axon extension is critical during neuronal outgrowth to reach post-synaptic targets.