Gibson Group News
Paper Published in Biomacromolecules
Our latest work on biochemically adaptable polymers has been accepted for publication in ACS Biomacromolecules, as part of a collaboration with Dr. Fran. Greco at Uni. Reading Pharmacy. There has been much interest in last decade in polymers with LCST behaviour (become less soluble when they are heated), and this responsive behaviour has been suggested to be useful for biomedical/nano-delivery applications. However, applying a raised temperature in vivo is pretty challenging, and not practical for most treatments. We have expanded the concept of an isothermal transition (see our review here) where we use a thermo-responsive polymer but 'train' it to respond to biochemical stimuli. In this work we synthesised polymers based on poly(oligoethyleneglycol methacylate) which can respond to alkaline phosphatase - a secreted enzyme found in most mammals. We showed that the polymer is stable under normal physiological conditions, but addition of the enzyme causes a rapid phase change - this can be considered to be a change in LogP; one of the key characteristic of a molecules pharmacokinetics.Read the paper here;
Paper Published in Biomacromolecules
Our latest paper on the interactions between ice and synthetic polymers has been published in ACS Biomacromolecules. This paper is our first study in ice nucleation - distinct from ice growth inhibition. Previous work has shown that PVA can inhibit ice nucleation, but this was studied using broad dispersity, partially acetylated commercial PVA. Using RAFT/MADIX we studied the effect of molecular weight on ice nucleation inhibition activity of PVA. This revealed clear molecular weight-dependant behaviour. Interesting, signficant activity require longer polymer chains than required for ice growth inhibition, which may help us understand these processes in the future. A range of other synthetic polymers were shown to have essentially no ice nucleation activity, highlighting (once again) the unique properties of PVA. Much of this work was conducted by undergraduate students, Bethany Dean and Jamie-Kasperzick Wright
Paper accepted in ACS Biomaterials Science and Enginnering
Our most recent cryopreservation/antifreeze protein mimetic paper has been accepted in the new ACS Journal, Biomaterials Science and Enginneering. In this work we sought to develop an 'all polymer' cryopreservation solution based upon ice recrystalisation inhibiting polymers. We have previously shown that PVA is a potent ice growth inhibitor and used this to preserve red blood cells. However, the total recovery using these polymers alone was not high enough for translation to real application. In this paper we used hydroxyethyl starch as a non-vitrifying cryopreservative, in tandem with our ice-modulating polymers. THis enabled us to recover far higher amounts of red blood cells, post freezing. Compared to glycerol (the current state of the art), this system was easier to use (no equilibration time issues) and all compounds are non-cell penetrating - meaning easy removal post thawing. A secondary benefit of an 'all polymer' system is the low molar concentration of cryoprotectants enabling us to succesfully store blood at - 20 C; a temperature where glycerol systems would still be liquid.
Read the paper here
MRC Innovation Grant Awarded
In collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Fullam (Life Sciences), we have been awarded a grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) from the Cross Council AMR Theme 1 Initiative (1 of only 8 awards made). This will seek to develop new tools for targetting the cell wall of Tuberculosis to validate new antibacterial and diagnostic agents. There is a 2 year postdoctoral position associated with this grant, so please contact us if interested.
Group's research highlighted in Chemistry World
Our recent paper in Chemical Communications has been highlighted by the Royal Society of Chemistry's magazine 'Chemistry World'. The article reviews are recent findings on how slowing the rate of ice growth during thawing of frozen cells, can improve their viability. In particular, we exemplify this for red blood cells, which are currently only frozen using large amounts of the organic solvent glycerol.
Read our related work here
Research Grant funded from Leverhulme Trust
We have been awarded a research grant, joint with the group of Nick Waterfield (Warwick Medical School), from the Leverhulme Trust. The project involves using a combination of chemistry and molecular biology (a.k.a. synthetic biology) to understand the function and potential uses of naturally occuring molecular syringes. There will be a PDRA (Med School) and PhD (Chemistry) working on this project
Paper published in Chem Commun
Our latest paper exploring the use of synthetic polymers for blood cryopreservation has been published. We have preivoulsy shown that ice recrystalisation inhibiting (IRI) polymers can improve cryopreservation, based on the PVA scaffold. Here we rationally designed a new polymer, based on an amopholyte structure - alternating cationinc/anionic charges. This was enabled by using the commodity polymer Gantraz, which gave us previce control over the charge balance. The new polymer was easy to make, and found to inhibit ice growth. It also was non-heamolytic to red blood cells and was used to enhance HES-mediated cryopreservation.
Read the paper here
Dr Matt Gibson Awarded PAT 'Young Talent' Award 2015
At the 13th PAT (Polymers for Advanced Technology) conference, in HongZhou (China) Matt was awarded the Young Talent award for outstanding research for an academic < 40 years old. He was selected from a shortlist of 5, including academics from USA, Europe and China.
Matt also delivered an invited lecture at the meeting.