Research area: Nanomaterials, biomaterials
Supervisors: Prof Namita Roy Choudhury and Prof Naba Dutta
Description: 'Tunability' or stimuli-responsiveness is critically important for next-generation functional biomaterial's application Stimuli-responsive polymers, biopolymers, their conjugates and hydrogels have emerged as one of the most important class of soft condensed matter; and have been the major focus of research due to their potential applications in the area of nanobiotechnology.
The responsive properties of biomimetic polymers such as elastin-mimetic proteins (EMPs) that exhibit lower critical solution temperature have stimulated novel protein engineering approaches for designing materials for biology and medicine. Resilin is a structural protein commonly found in specialized regions of the body of most insects, where there are highly repetitive movements, such as the back legs of jumping insects, the vibrating membrane of cicadas, or the wings of dragonflies. They are widely distributed, with a broad range of biological functions and mechanical properties, and exhibit unique characteristics.
Such elastic proteins attract significant research interest due to: (i) their biological and medical significance, particularly in human disease; and (ii) their unusual properties provide opportunity to develop novel materials. Therefore, protein-based polymers can be designed with properties and functions that go beyond those of known proteins, once the rules for tuning their properties have been established. They will be useful in designing diverse biomolecular devices with promising application for the society.
In this project, we seek this goal by conjugation of unique recombinant protein based elastomers derived from different insect proteins, with responsive bioinert polymers for their use as bioactive hydrogels. This will be investigated through crosslinking of the recombinant protein resilin with specific responsive polymers and explore the thermodynamic, physical and chemical properties of the biomimetic responsive conjugates; evaluation of the effect of various physical and chemical approaches to create responsive gel for controlled transport and release applications.
We will also explore their interactions with biological species such as enzymatic protein urease and develop methodology to integrate responsive materials with biomacromolecules. This fundamental information will provide a basis for utilizing these novel gels for different biomedical applications.
Funding: A grant application to the Australian research Council (ARC) is currently being assessed. If successful, this grant will support one IWRI fully funded scholarship. International students should apply for an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) and a UniSA President's Scholarship (UPS).
Australian students should apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) and a UniSA Australian Postgraduate Research Award (USAPRA).