Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Giving cells star treatment


A three-dimensional star-shaped polymer network enhances cell adhesion and growth for tissue regeneration.

Tissues and organs in the body are sometimes damaged to such an extent that they require artificial support to heal. Now, A*STAR researchers have used star-shaped polymers to produce a three-dimensional network that is both compatible with human tissue and facilitates cells to adhere and proliferate under controlled biological conditions[¹].

Schematic representation of the star-shaped polymer network showing the polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) cores and crosslinked polycaprolactone (PCL)–polyurethane (PU) arms.

Copyright : Adapted by A*STAR with permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: NPG Asia Materials (Ref. 1), copyright (2014)

To build this network, Ming-Yong Han, Khin Yin Win and co-workers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore incorporated an inorganic component ― polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (POSS) ― into a common tissue engineering material, polycaprolactone–polyurethane.

This addition was designed to enhance the material’s porosity and interaction with cells as well as improve its thermal and mechanical stability. POSS consisted of a silica cube bearing eight organic arms capable of covalent bonding with other polymers (see image). The silica cube provided a rigid core from which emerged polycaprolactone–polyurethane arms.

To generate this material, the researchers synthesized POSS cores terminated by reactive functional groups from an organic alcohol, in the presence of a silicon-based catalyst. They then attached polycaprolactone units to the cores to extend their arms. Finally, they added the polyurethane precursor as a crosslinker to complete the network.

Unlike its linear counterpart, the POSS-based material had a rough surface consisting of microscopic spheres from which fibrous structures spread. The unique surface morphology, which consisted of water-repelling POSS and polymer arms, helped the cells to adhere and proliferate. This biomaterial was biocompatible and had a high porosity; these properties allowed the material to promote cell growth while simultaneously permitting the exchange of nutrients and metabolites.

The researchers evaluated the degradation of the polymer network under physiological conditions for 52 weeks. The network decomposed little during the first 24 weeks, but subsequently lost weight rapidly.

Han explains that the water-repelling nature and protective effect of the POSS moieties limited the initial hydrolytic degradation. “The degradation accelerated only after these POSS moieties had broken down,” he adds.

This degradation behavior enables cell adhesion and proliferation on the network during the initial stage and elimination of the scaffold after tissue has formed, making the POSS-based network highly attractive as a scaffold. Moreover, most cells remained viable when exposed to the degradation products of these POSS-based and linear polymers, confirming their biocompatibility.

The team is currently exploring ways to apply the star-shaped polymer as a scaffold for tissue regeneration. “We are planning to use it for three-dimensional tissue reconstruction and modeling,” says Han.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering.


1. Teng, C. P., Mya, K. Y., Win, K. Y., Yeo, C. C., Low, M., He, C. & Han, M.-Y. Star-shaped polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane-polycaprolactone-polyurethane as biomaterials for tissue engineering application. NPG Asia Materials 6, e142 (2014). |

Associated links

A*STAR Research | ResearchSEA
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires
19.03.2018 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Researchers demonstrate existence of new form of electronic matter
15.03.2018 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>