EnCoMed- Enzymatic Functionalization of Collagens for Medical Applications

Project: Research project

Project Details


Collagen is a very popular biomaterial for biomedical applications where it is widely used to produce drug delivery systems or scaffolds for cellular growth and tissue engineering. However, the application of collagen-based materials is limited by their lack of mechanical and thermal stability. To overcome these problems collagen-based materials are functionalized or crosslinked by using chemical agents. Although these treatments are quite effective, the chemical reagents comprise residue problems with potential or well known toxicity. That is why in the medical field there is a high need for novel functionalizing and cross-linking mechanisms. Functionalization of collagen using enzymatic procedures offers a promising alternative. It has been shown that treatment with enzymes such as transglutaminase, laccase or tyrosinase leads to cross-linking preferably of unfolded collagen helical structures. Such materials provide adequate support and sustainability for porous collagen systems to be used in cell cultivation or wound healing. Furthermore, they offer great potential for sustained release of incorporated molecules. To provide an adequate drug liberation profile from collagen materials for several weeks upon parenteral application, dense matrices are necessary. These can be obtained, e. g. by extrusion or electrospinning. In this study, the electrospinning process will be used to make collagen-based non-woven nanostructures which mimic the extracellular matrix and enhance cell growth only by their architecture. To reinforce these structures for final applications and to provide a 3 D architecture, knitted bioresorbable scaffolds will be used to host the electrospun materials. Another major benefit of enzymatic cross-linking is its enormous potential to introduce not only cross-links but at the same time add specific features by co-immobilizing compounds, particularly cytokines. This innovative design of collagen materials will be evaluated during the project by applying two different setups. The first one is collagen equipped with covalently attached endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which is of interest, e. g. for coating of vascular grafts. The effect of this material on endothelial cells as well as smooth muscle cells will be evaluated. The second realization is collagen enriched with bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). This material and its manufacturing process will be based on the experience gained with the VEGFinvestigations. After transferring it into porous systems for bone regeneration, the BMP-collagen composite material will be tested for differentiation of fibroblasts. In summary, the aim of this precompetitive project is to develop new methods for the enzymatic functionalization of native collagen structures and to use these structures as drug delivery systems.
Effective start/end date1/10/1130/09/13


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