Placental lipid bilayer for cell-free molecular interaction studies


Researchers and clinicians have a need for in vitro or in vivo tools to quantify placental interactions at the molecular scale. Lipid bilayers have been used to model biological interfaces, including those in the liver, red blood cells or myelin.  We have developed a lipid bilayer that mimics the lipid composition of the placenta.

 Market Opportunity

Placental dysfunction is associated with increased perinatal and neonatal mortality and lifelong health complications in the mother and child. Yet the placenta remains one of the least understood organs in the human body. Available techniques for assessing placental function, like histology, are highly qualitative. There are currently no cell-free models of the placental bilayer for high-throughput molecular interaction screening. Thus, there is a need for lipid bilayer systems that can be used as tools to quantify placental interactions at the molecular scale.

 Innovation and Meaningful Advantages

Our novel lipid bilayer mimics the lipid composition of the placenta, providing an in vitro placenta model that will be a useful tool for quantifying pharmaceutical or environmental toxicant interactions with the placenta at the molecular scale. The placenta-mimicking bilayer system can help researchers to advance understanding of the placenta, allow clinicians to minimize the risks to a developing fetus, better inform treatment plans, and screen new therapies. Ultimately, it will be a useful tool for rapid understanding of how medications may interact with the maternal-fetal interface, affecting prenatal and future maternal health.

Collaboration Opportunity

We are interested in exploring 1) research collaborations with leading medical research companies; and 2) licensing opportunities with companies.

Principal Investigator

Anita Shukla, PhD

Associate Professor of Engineering

Brown University

IP Information

US Utility US20200370008A1, Published November 26, 2020


Bailey-Hytholt CM, Shen T-L, Nie B, Tripathi A, and Shukla A. Placental Trophoblast-Inspired Lipid Bilayers for Cell-Free Investigation of Molecular Interactions. Applied Materials & Interfaces. 2020 June 19;12, 28:31099-31111.



Melissa Simon

Director of Business Development, Life Sciences

Brown Tech ID 3002

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Anita Shukla
Christina Bailey-Hytholt
Anubhav Tripathi
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