Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Inspired by insects

27.04.2012
For treatment of vocal fold disorders, UD researchers look to insect protein
A one-inch long grasshopper can leap a distance of about 20 inches. Cicadas can produce sound at about the same frequency as radio waves. Fleas measuring only millimeters can jump an astonishing 100 times their height in microseconds. How do they do it? They make use of a naturally occurring protein called resilin.

Resilin is a protein in the composite structures found in the leg and wing joints, and sound producing organs of insects. Highly elastic, it responds to exceptionally high rates of speed and demonstrates unmatched resilience after being stretched or deformed.
Kristi Kiick, professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware, believes this unusual protein may also be a key to unlocking the regenerative power of certain mechanically active tissues.

Through support from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Kiick research group has developed new cell-interactive resilin-like materials that have mechanical properties similar to the natural protein and that are engineered to support the growth of multiple types of cells.

Kiick has teamed with Xinqiao Jia, associate professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering, to explore the potential of these resilin-like materials for treating vocal fold disorders in humans.

Vocal folds vibrate more than 100 times a second at very high frequencies, enabling humans to form words and speak. Damaged vocal folds can impair voice production, resulting in an expensive health care problem. According to NIH estimates, the societal cost of voice problems in teachers alone is on the order of $2.5 billion annually in the United States.

Development of new materials to treat vocal fold disorders, however, have been hampered by the stringent mechanical requirements of the vocal fold, which include the ability to both sustain deformation at frequencies as high as 1,000Hz, and also to completely recoil after stretching up to 200 percent.

Through the support from National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the Jia research group has made significant progress towards engineering artificial vocal folds via the strategic combination of multipotent cells, biomimetic and bioactive hydrogel matrices and external high frequency vibratory stimulations.

Sophisticated equipment, such as a torsional wave apparatus, has enabled her group to analyze the mechanical properties of various vocal fold tissues and the replacement materials at phonation frequencies.

To complement this work, Kiick’s research group has developed a new polypeptide hydrogel that displays characteristics and capabilities similar to its natural resilin counterpart. The hydrogel not only mimics the mechanical properties of naturally occurring resilin, it has also been engineered to contain modules that support cell adhesion and permit degradation, important factors in permitting the growth of native tissue into the gel.

A critical element of the project is the collaborative work of the Kiick and Jia groups, which “will enable us to design new materials, develop methods to characterize and culture materials at high frequencies, and then test this new class of materials for healing vocal fold tissue,” explained Kiick, principal investigator on the NIH grant funding the work.

Now, Kiick and Jia are studying these materials to determine if they can be used in vocal fold regeneration. The research team plans to culture human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), taken from the bone marrow of adult patients, in these matrices under vibrations like those experienced in the vocal fold to determine if the cells become the kinds of cells found in the vocal fold. They will also investigate whether the cell-gel matrices exhibit biochemical and mechanical properties like those of healthy vocal fold tissue.

As a final step, the researchers will work in collaboration with vocal fold specialists Susan Thibeault and Timothy McCulloch, at the University of Wisconsin Madison, to test the ability of these new materials as injectable therapies to heal vocal fold scarring in laboratory models.

“In addition to their potential use for vocal fold disorders, we are excited that these novel polypeptides may ultimately be useful as a general platform in the design of materials for mechanically demanding regenerative medicine applications,” added Kiick.

Article by Karen B. Roberts

Photos by Duane Perry and Kathy F. Atkinson

Andrea Boyle Tippett | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>