Smart Biomaterials Inspired by Nature's Mechanisms
Murphy, William L.
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Control over the soluble signals that cells encounter in their local environment is a common theme in natural tissue formation, and also an emerging theme in functional tissue engineering strategies. This concept is particularly important in stem cell-based applications, in which local soluble signals can dictate cell fate decisions. Therefore, there is significant interest in using bioengineering approaches to control soluble signaling in the stem cell microenvironment. Nature often achieves intricate control over local soluble signaling via specific, non-covalent interactions. Inspired by these natural interactions, we are interested in creating biomaterials that actively regulate soluble signaling. For example, our recent studies have used engineered protein-peptide and protein-mineral interactions to build new classes of materials that are bio-responsive and capable of regulating growth factor signaling. This talk will specifically highlight bio-inspired protein conformational shifts and engineered growth factor sequestering as mechanisms to regulate stem cell behavior upon and within biomaterials.