Paper Published in Biomacromolecules
Our latest work has been published in ACS Biomacromolecules. This paper describes our latest progress in the design, understanding and application of synthetic polymers to mimic the function of antifreeze proteins. We have previously identified that poly(vinyl alcohol), PVA, is an excellent inhibitor of ice growth and can aid in the cryopreservation of cells. However, we do not really understand why it works so well, compared to other similar polymers. To address this, we made use of block copolymerization with a non-antifreeze active hydrophilic second polymer. This is a major advantage of using polymers, not proteins, in that macromolecular architecture can be easily changed. Here we find that addition of very large second blocks have essentially no effect of the antifreeze proteins of the PVA - even with block co-polymers where 90% is non-active polymer the activity is retained. This is a surprise and we believe (but cannot prove yet) that this indicates our PVAs do not bind the ice, but rather limit transfer of water at the quasi-liquid interface.
Read the paper here!
Paper Published in Journal of Materials Chemistry B
Our latest work has been published in the RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry B. This work forms part of our long standing interest in responsive nanomaterials - materials which can respond to biochemical (or external) triggers to promote a useful interaction. In particular we are interested in gold nanoparticles with responsive coronas. We have previously observed that the size of the particle core has a huge impact on the observed transition temperature of the hybrid particle. In this paper we investigated in detail the effect of mixing different sizes of particles, or identical particles with different polymers on them as a route to fine-tune the transition temperature; this is improtant as it removes the need to screen lots of polymers to obtain the desired response, as two 'master' batches can simply be mixed. In particular we found evidence for interaction betwen large/small particels with different transition temperatures, suggesting they have some cooperative aggregation behaviour. This, in particular, has applications and implications in the design of nanoparticle biosensors
We have a vacancy for an ambitious and talented post-doc to joint our interdisciplinary team. The project will focus on using recombinant (bacterial expression) methods to generate protein-based biomaterials as new mimics of antifreeze proteins. The global aim of this work is to improve methods for the cryopreservation of donor cells and tissue for regenerative medicine.
Paper published in Nanotoxicology
Our latest work, as part of a long term collaboration with JGU Mainz, has been published in the leading toxicology journal Nanotoxicology. Despite the huge interest in nanomedicine and drug delivery, succesful (clinically relevant) strategies to deliver across complex barriers, especially the blood brain barrier (BBB) are still missing. Here, we used a combinatorial synthethetic strategy (see here) to make a small library of polymer-coated gold nanoparticles as model nanoparticles to probe their interaction with the human BBB. Rather than just simply testing for cytoxicity (i.e. concentration to cause cell death) a detailed study was undertaken at low concentrations to look for other markers of toxicity. It was found that certain nanoparticle formulations lead to upregulation of pro-inflammatory markers. It was also possible to rule out ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress, which can lead to apoptosis (programmed cell death). The versatile synthetic methodology, and unique properties of gold (SPR band) and ability to quantify cell uptake usign ICP was crucial to this. Read the full paper here.
Paper Published in Biomacromolecules
Our latest work has been published in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules. In this, we describe the synthesis and characterisation of surface-grafted polymer chains. We are very interested in making materials which can bind to biological targets, which means we need synthetic methods to incorporate appropriate ligands. One tool is micro-arrays, but these suffer from non-specific binding of proteins and cells, which can complicate the interpretation of the results. Hydrophilic polymers can help reduce this binding, and provide 'handles' for adding ligands. In this work, we used RAFT polymerization - which produces a thiol at every chain end to graft polymers directly on glass slides using a 'thiol-ene' reaction and compared this to using gold surfaces. We think these surfaces will be useful, esepcially in glycomics and glycobiology, as responsive microarray substracts, which we are now investigating
Read the paper here
Prof. Gibson interviewed in FutureScience OA
Whilst attending the World Biotechnology Congress in May this year, Prof Gibson was interviewed for FutureScience OA, ragarding the groups work in infection, cryopreservation and science in general.
Read the interview here
Dan Phillips wins Faculty Thesis Prize
Dr Daniel Phillips, who did his Mchem and PhD in the group has won the Departmental Thesis prize for 2015. His Thesis was entitled 'Biochemically Adaptive Materials based on (iso)Thermally Responsive Materials'. This dealt with the design of polymers which could respond (e.g signal generation or cell uptake) upon changes in biochemical environments including redox, enzymes or temperature.
This is the second year in a row where a group member has won this prize (Robert Deller Previously), keeping up our tradition of great science that people want to read!
Well done Dan!
Ben and Lewis win Presentation Prizes
Ben and Lewis in the group won prizes for their presentations at the Annual Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium. Ben won the 2nd place prize in the Chemical Biology Session and Lewis 1st Prize in the Materials Session. Very well deserved for some excellent science!