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Georgia Tech research reveals how biomaterial properties control cellular responses

ATLANTA (April 18, 2005) The body treats implanted medical devices including everything from titanium hip replacements and blood vessel grafts as invaders.

Cells surround and attack foreign material, resulting in an inflammatory response. This unfriendly reaction prevents implants from integrating into the body and functioning as well as they could.

While implanted biomaterials can be designed with different surface chemistries and roughness to influence inflammatory responses, the process is not well understood. Now, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered how cells "sense" differences in biomaterial surface chemistry. These differences in communication between the cell and the biomaterial result in changes in cell behavior, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

In addition to explaining how biomaterials influence cells, the findings could be used to develop new classes of materials to improve device integration and function. For example, these findings could be used to direct responses in stem cells, controlling their differentiation into mature, functional cell types.

The research was lead by Andrs Garca, an associate professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech. Benjamin Keselowsky, a post doctoral fellow in Mechanical Engineering, and David Collard, an associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech, also collaborated on the project.

"From a molecular perspective, we now have a better idea of how cells interact with materials and how materials can direct cell responses," Garca said. "And now that we understand that, it may be possible to engineer novel, rationally-designed biomaterials that can control those interactions."

Cells interact with biomaterials using specialized adhesion proteins. These adhesion p
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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@icpa.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology
18-Apr-2005


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