Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have found a way to modify a plastic to anchor molecules that promote nerve regeneration, blood vessel growth or other biological processes.
In the study led by Dr. Christine Schmidt, the researchers identified a piece of protein from among a billion candidates that could perform the unusual feat of attaching to polypyrrole, a synthetic polymer (plastic) that conducts electricity and has shown promise in biomedical applications. When the protein piece, or peptide, was linked to a smaller protein piece that human cells like to attach to, polypyrrole gained the ability to attach to cells grown in flasks in the laboratory.
“It will be very useful from a biomedical standpoint to be able to link factors to polypyrrole in the future that stimulate nerve growth or serve other functions,” said Schmidt, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the university.
Becky Rische | EurekAlert!
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