Elastin mimetic polymer-peptide hybrids
The goal of this project is to engineer functional cardiovascular tissues that have the ability to provide long-term functionality when introduced into the body.
To reach this goal, we attempt to integrate a novel biomaterial, tissue engineering techniques and textile fabrication methods. One of the major scientific challenges in creating in vitro tissues is to mimic the native-like structure and mechanical properties using a proper scaffold material. An ideal material should be biomimetic, possess appropriate physical, mechanical and chemical characteristics and degrade over time (especially for young patients).
As elasticity is one of the main mechanical properties of cardiovascular tissues, it is important to replicate the elasticity of native tissues using elastomeric biomaterials to create functional implants. The synthetic polymeric scaffolds developed so far show plastic deformation under high strain amounts and therefore fail to replicate the elasticity of innate tissues. To address these limitations, we attempt to develop a synthetic mimic of elastin, as the most important protein that provides the tissue with elasticity, using two different strategies.
The first strategy is a block-copolymer structure in which Elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) moieties will be alternated with a hydrophilic domain; this structure closely resembles the structure of native elastin. The second strategy makes use of a graft-copolymer in which the ELP moieties will be grafted onto a synthetic polymer. The biobased nature of the synthetic polymers is considered in both strategies. The engineered material produced either way can be then tuned in terms of mechanical properties, biological activity, and processability to create scaffolds fibers.