Mar 14 2013

Prof. Szu-Wen Wang, University of California

March 14, 2013

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


CEB 218


810 South Clinton Street, Chicago, IL 60612

Engineering Biologically-Inspired Materials

New materials that can be programmed to elicit desired biological responses have enormous potential in therapeutic applications. Our research group uses a biomimetic approach to design such materials. We apply tools of genetic engineering to produce precisely-structured protein-based materials which cannot be fabricated using conventional chemical synthesis. By redesigning architecture and self-assembly behavior at the molecular and nanoscale levels, one can customize these biomaterials to yield novel properties and biological interactions. One example is a self-assembling protein nanoparticle, based on the E2 subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase. By truncating this complex down to its structural core, we obtain a highly-stable, 25-nm dodecahedron with a hollow cavity. We have demonstrated that this nanoparticle can be designed to accommodate drug molecules, exhibit pH-triggered assembly and drug release, target cancer cells, and modulate immunological responses. In another example, we have developed a versatile platform to fabricate a new class of biomimetic polymers which has previously been elusive to create. Since these polymers are based on the extracellular matrix protein collagen, this gives us the potential to control cellular processes by specifically tailoring the underlying matrix material. These biomimetic polymers are expressed in yeast, contain precisely-defined cell interaction sites and chemical linkage sites, and are structurally comparable to the natural material. We show that cellular responses to these biopolymers can be modulated by altering specific cell interaction sites. These studies collectively reveal the tremendous potential of using natural protein scaffolds as a departure point for creating new types of biomaterials.


UIC Chemical Engineering

Date posted

Jun 17, 2019

Date updated

Jun 17, 2019