Bioinspired materials & nanotechnology

Research the Laboratory of Bioinspired Materials is focused on mimicking self-assembly processes that occur in nature, including biomineralization and the organization of short peptides and amino acids into ordered nanostructures. We are a material science laboratory with an emphasize on organic chemistry and medical-biological applications. The group is developing new organic materials that are used for various applications, such as 3D hydrogels for bone tissue regeneration, which exhibit extraordinary mechanical properties and durability, along with biocompatibility and controlled drug release. A central technique is the formation of hybrid hydrogels, using two or more different building blocks, resulting in a 3D hydrogel with novel and diverse properties that can be easily fine-tuned. In addition, the laboratory is interested in antimicrobial activity of nanostructures for coatings and incorporation into composite materials for dental medicine application.

Development of low molecular weight hydrogels

We are designing innovative biomimetic hydrogels for medical applications. The hydrogels are based on short aromatic peptides which have the ability to form extracellular mimicking nanofibrous structures by self-assembly process. Combining different peptides or amino acids as building blocks, we fabricate biocompatible hydrogels with tunable mechanical properties which have the potential to serve as scaffolds to induce stem cell differentiation into different lineages.

  • Halperin-Sternfeld, M., Ghosh, M., Sevostianov, R., Grigoriants, I. & Adler-Abramovich, L. Molecular co-assembly as a strategy for synergistic improvement of the mechanical properties of hydrogels. Chem Commun (Camb) 53, 9586-9589 (2017)

  • Ghosh, M. et al. Arginine-Presenting Peptide Hydrogels Decorated with Hydroxyapatite as Biomimetic Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration. Biomacromolecules 18, 3541-3550 (2017)

Fabrication of hydrogel scaffolds for bone regeneration

The lab focuses on the development of injectable, biodegradable hydrogel scaffolds for reconstruction of bone defects using minimally invasive techniques. We fabricate multi-component hydrogels composed of short aromatic peptides, polysaccharides and bone ceramics. The combination of the different building blocks allows us to fabricate biocompatible scaffolds which mimic the major components of the bone extracellular matrix. Using in vitro and in vivo techniques, we evaluate the suitability of the scaffolds for stem cell osteogenic differentiation and their ability to repair bone defects, respectively.


3D-printing of soft materials

We are developing uniquely soft materials for 3D-printing of volumetric samples. These materials allow the design of custom-made samples with desired size, shape, mechanical and biological properties. The 3D-printed scaffolds support the growth of cells and exhibit high biocompatibility. Our aim is to develop costume-made personalized scaffolds for applications in tissue regeneration.

Drug delivery and slow release

We designed and synthesized hydrogel systems for drug delivery applications by changing their structural network in response to external stimuli. These novel peptides include an ultraviolet (UV)‐sensitive photo-trigger and allow the formation of a 3D, self‐supporting, nanofibrous hydrogel through self‐assembly. UV irradiation of the hydrogel encapsulating a hormone results in cleavage of the peptide building blocks, thereby facilitating the degradation of the hydrogel and the release of the hormone. This release is in linear correlation to the irradiation time. This fibrous, light‐responsive hydrogel serves as a novel drug delivery system for controlled release of large molecules.

Enhanced nano-assembly-incorporated antibacterial composite materials

We developed antibacterial nano-assemblies that have a substantial effect on bacterial morphology. These nano-assemblies are incorporated within resin-based composites that inhibit and hinder bacterial growth and viability and are not cytotoxic towards mammalian cell lines. Importantly, due to the low dosage required to confer antibacterial activity, integration of the nano-assemblies does not affect their mechanical and optical properties. This approach expands on the growing number of accounts on the intrinsic antibacterial capabilities of self-assembling building blocks and serves as a basis for further design and development of enhanced composite materials for biomedical applications.