Polymers in the service of Biotechnology
By exploring the interface between polymer technology and biotechnology, we have developed a range of new and interesting materials for use in areas such as bioseparation, medical biotechnology and bioanalysis.
We produce macroporous gels, so called cryogels, by polymerization in a partially frozen state when the ice crystals perform as porogens. The high mechanical strength along with unique tissue-like elasticity and uniform porous structure with large pores make cryogels very promising materials for bioseparation of nanoparticles, as scaffolds for the cultivation of mammalian cells and implants in tissue engineering. Cryogels with different chemistries of pore surface modification like polymer brushes (developd in collaboration with Prof. Du Prez, University of Gent, Belgium) and newly developed mimic of cell-recognition motif RGD (Arg-Gly-Asp), were studied in 96-well format as scaffolds for the cultivation of mammalian cells. Biodegradable cryogels based on dithiol chemistry have been developed in collaboration with Prof. E. Piskin and Prof. A. Denizli in Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey.
Smart surfaces and smart gels
The surfaces with grafted smart polymers, so called smart surfaces respond in a strong and predefined way to small changes in environment like temperature, pH, ionic strength, the presence of specific chemicals. Smart boronate-containing gels were developed for optical detection of saccharides. The polymer grafts with boronate ligands were characterized with time-of-flight secondary ion mass-spectrometry (ToF SIMS) and contact angle measurements. Cancer cells of different cell lines have different ability to attach to the boronate copolymer-grafted surfaces. The adhered cells are efficiently detached with fructose. Smart surfaces could be used for cell-based toxicity tests performed on the transparent supports like glass slides.