A team led by James Henderson, assistant professor of biomedical and chemical engineering in Syracuse University's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS) and researcher in the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute, has used shape memory polymers to provide greater insight into how cells sense and respond to their physical environment.
Most cell biomechanics research has examined cell behavior on unchanging, flat surfaces. "Living cells are remarkably complex, dynamic and versatile systems, but the material substrates currently used to culture them are not," says Henderson (at right in photo). "What motivated our work was the need for cell culture technologies that would allow dynamic control of cell-material interactions. We wanted to give a powerful new tool to biologists and bioengineers."
The goal of the current research was to develop a temperature-sensitive shape memory polymer substrate that could be programmed to change shape under cell-compatible conditions. Shape memory polymers (SMPs) are a class of "smart" materials that can switch between two shapes on command, from a fixed (temporary) shape to a pre-determined permanent shape, via a trigger such as a temperature change.
The breakthrough needed to achieve the research goal was made by Kevin Davis, a third-year Ph.D. student in the Henderson lab. Davis was able to develop a SMP with a transition temperature that worked within the limited range required for cells to live. He observed greater than 95 percent cell viability before and after topography and temperature change. This is the first demonstration of this type of cell-compatible, programmable topography change. Davis' and Henderson's work collaboration with Kelly Burke of Case Western Reserve University and Patrick T. Mather, Milton and Ann Stevenson Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University, is highlighted in the January issue of the journal Biomaterials, the leading journal i
|Contact: Ariel DuChene|