Silk fibroin nanostructured materials for biomedical applications.
Nanostructured biopolymers have proven to be promising to develop novel biomedical
applications where forming structures at the nanoscale normally occurs by self-assembly.
However, synthesizing these structures can also occur by inducing materials to
transition into other forms by adding chemical cross-linkers, changing pH, or changing
ionic composition. Understanding the generation ... read moreof nanostructures in fluid environments,
such as liquid organic solvents or supercritical fluids, has not been thoroughly
examined, particularly those that are based on protein-based block-copolymers. Here, we
examine the transformation of reconstituted silk fibroin, which has emerged as a
promising biopolymer due to its biocompatibility, biodegradability, and ease of
functionalization, into submicron spheres and gel networks which offer applications in
tissue engineering and advanced sensors. Two types of gel networks, hydrogels and
aerogels, have small pores and large surface areas that are defined by their structure.
We design and analyze silk nanoparticle formation using a microfluidic device while
offering an application for drug delivery. Additionally, we provide a model and
characterize hydrogel formation from micelles to nanoparticles, while investigating
cellular response to the hydrogel in an in vitro cell culture model. Lastly, we provide
a second model of nanofiber formation during near-critical and supercritical drying and
characterize the silk fibroin properties at different drying pressures which, when
acting as a stabilizing matrix, shows to improve the activity of entrapped enzymes dried
at different pressures. This work has created new nanostructured silk fibroin forms to
benefit biomedical applications that could be applied to other fibrous
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2015.
Submitted to the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering.
Advisor: Fiorenzo Omenetto.
Committee: David Kaplan, Marc Hodes, and Ann Anderson.
Keywords: Biomedical engineering, and Materials Science.read less
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