Unique 3D Biomimetic Nanosurfaces for Growing Cells and Producing Cellular Implants (Case 1696)

Principal Investigator:


Diane Hoffman-Kim, PhD, Associate Professor    

Department of Bio Med Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology

Brown University

Providence, RI


Brief Description:


An extensive list of polymers – natural and synthetic – has been utilized in drug delivery and in biomedical engineering for many years, especially in the formation of matrices and scaffolds for cell growth and/or as a drug/agent vehicle.  Researchers in cell and tissue engineering require surfaces, scaffolds, matrices, substrates or other forms with particular structural and surface topographies and mechano-physiological properties that influence cell adhesion, spreading, growth, differentiation or regeneration, and organization. 


Specific surface patterns can optimize the induction and stimulation of controlled selective growth and differentiation, or regeneration, of cells/tissues of interest.  An area of intense scientific interest is the nerve regeneration for therapeutic purposes to alleviate the symptoms of, or cure, debilitating diseases/disorders of the central nervous system in which current treatments are grossly inadequate for most:  Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, brain/spinal injury, blindness, among others.  Prior art substrates employed and designed to guide the growth of neurites (axons/dendrites) may not work as anticipated in some cases and under certain conditions.  The field is nascent, and a new approach may be advantageous.


This invention is a novel approach for the topographical cell-templating of polymeric materials and creation of substrates that can be employed to influence the organization, spreading, or adhesion of a selected cell, using cellular morphology, to induce or stimulate guided cell growth, differentiation or regeneration of the cell/tissue of interest.  The proprietary method uses any cell type to create the three-dimensional (3D) surface ‘template’ features or morphologies in substrates, including in implantable substrates.  Moreover, cells employed to create the template can be alone or with their extracellular matrix.  The prepared substrates can be non-toxic, biocompatible, bioerodible or not, and can take many forms: films and of varying thicknesses and formations, e.g., tubes, a channel or conduit, planar or substantially planar sheets, or a thick film formed into a rectangular bridge, depending on the application.  Furthermore, the substrates can be formed from, or composed of, elastomeric, natural or synthetic, polymeric gel or solid polymer, and bioactive molecules (Schwann cells, growth factors, among many others) may be within or on an implantable substrate to assist cellular processes.  Cell-templating parameters/dimensions may be captured and reproduced – with or without modifications – via a computer-assisted design program.  In summary, this innovation creates biomimetic polymer materials with surfaces replicas of cellular topography containing micro- and nanoscale features, thereby transforming a biomaterial from simply a conventional mechanical support to one that provides critical cues for the study of cellular function.  Two distinct materials, ‘impression’ and ‘relief’ replicas are created with indented and protruding cell-templated topographies, respectively.  In this way, tailored biomaterial systems can be developed to direct cells to form functional tissues.


The applicable clinical market niches are pharmaceutical therapeutics, medical devices – drug delivery, and scientific/biomedical R&D, with applications in developing targeted in situ therapeutics via drug delivery molecular carriers and/or implantable devices for many diseases, developing implantable medical devices and/or the cells/tissues for stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine to initiate the growth of replacement cells/tissues, and in scientific research endeavors to advance many specialized fields of medicine such as neuroscience, stem cell/regenerative medicine, diabetes/metabolic diseases, or any disease, disorder or injury that would benefit from targeted, cell therapy and replacement.




US patent application 14/972,905 is pending

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Margaret Shabashevich,
Manager of Operations
Office of Industry Engagement & Commercial Venturing
Brown University
401-863-7499 iecv@brown.edu
Diane Hoffman-Kim
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