FEIT Research Project Database

Can we use marine based sulphated polysaccharides to create new biomimetic material technologies

Project Leader: Brooke Farrugia
Collaborators: Penny Martens (UNSW), Laura Poole-Warren (UNSW), Sally McArthur (Swinburne)
Primary Contact: Brooke Farrugia (brooke.farrugia@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: biomaterials; tissue engineering
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering

Rising healthcare costs and an ageing global population has seen the market demand for engineered tissues and biomaterials rise from $13.6B in 2016 to over $60.8B by 2021. These regenerative medicine strategies rely on the development of cost-effective materials that can induce specific biological functions and/or induce better integration into the body. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) play a key role in these tissue integration processes.

GAGs are a family of sulphated polysaccharides (SP), and are complex, polydisperse linear chains that regulate many important biological functions. Heparin and heparan sulphate (HS) are the most well-known GAGs. The first step in regulating function is that the GAGs need to interact, or bind, with biological molecules. This interaction is highly dependent on the GAG’s structure. Specific binding of the GAG with a range of biomolecules, for example growth factors (GF) and chemokines, has significant downstream effects on the biological function.

This project takes inspiration from nature as we seek to utilise marine SPs and develop a fundamental understanding of how changes in the structure and nature of these molecules affects their ability to induce specific biological activities.