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Skin Scaffold

Grafts of artificial skin are frequently used to treat extensive burns. Although a variety of artificial grafts have been developed, all share serious problems. Artificial skin heals with extensive scarring, and fails to regenerate normal skin structures such as glands, nerves, and hair follicles. In addition, the animal or human materials used to fabricate the supporting scaffold for artificial skin may contain latent viruses or induce spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). Due to these problems, improved methods are being developed for engineering artificial skin by Professor Mueller and her collaborator Professor Woodworth from Clarkson University's Department of Biology. The long-term goal of this project is to design a tissue scaffold that stimulates regeneration of the normal structure and function of skin after wounding. In initial experiments, biodegradable polymers and copolymers are being synthesized and tested for their ability to support the attachment and growth of human skin cells. Polymers that are biocompatible will be molded into a 3-dimensional scaffold and then seeded with keratinocytes and dermal cells isolated from normal human epidermis and dermis. The ability of these cells to grow and differentiate into functional skin will be examined in vitro by Professor Woodworth. For successful cell growth and differentiation, bioactive peptides are needed which will be incorporated into the skin scaffold material by adding them to the polymerization reaction itself. This allows for a homogenous distribution of these fragile peptides throughout the skin scaffold. The peptides will not be destroyed by the reaction conditions, since enzymatic polymerization occurs at body temperature in buffer. Peptide release kinetics can be modified by the type and length of the biodegradable polymer used.

Figure 5. Method of imprinting polymerization. It is a method that can be used for a variety of water impurities, even for mixtures. This is being developed as a flexible method for generating efficient flocculants and filters for wastewater treatment.

Flocculants and Filters for Wastewater Treatment

Factories and wastewater facilities face various impurities in their wastewater, which might change over time. Therefore in this research project a flexible method to efficiently remove a variety of compounds is being developed. Imprinting polymerization (and copolymerization) of acrylates, acrylamides, and methacrylates is used to make flocculants or filters specific for impurities such as heavy metal ions and toxic aromatic compounds (Figure 5). These specific polymeric flocculants and filters increase the removal rate of heavy metals and aromatic compounds such as PAH. That is important for big wastewater treatment facilities that use bacterial sludge for treatment, since the bacteria are inhibited or killed by these compounds, reducing the treatment efficiency considerably. The removal rate for these toxic compounds is also important for big industrial facilities that have to fulfill wastewater requirements. This method can be used for any impurity, regardless if it is hydrophilic or hydrophobic, by simply changing some of the polymerization conditions. In this project the different polymerization conditions for different types of impurities and impurity mixtures are currently being developed.

For more information about Professor Anja Mueller and her research, please call her at 315-268-4405 or send email to muellean@clarkson.edu

 

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