Weaving together genetics, materials and tissue engineering is beginning to show promise in the fabrication of scaffolds that could be useful in implants, the release of drugs directly to their targets, and in wound healing.

Researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University identified a range of AMP genes in a database of silkworms (Bombyx moro). A selection of representative genes was cloned, including atttacin2, and the resulting recombinant DNA was transformed into a strain of E. coli – BL21. After dialysis and freeze drying, the team tested the antibacterial activity against a range of bacteria.

The data suggest that the attacin2 can inhibit the growth of some bacteria, in particular Gram-negative – which are known to be more resistant to antibodies. Professor Li Yi and colleagues went on to produce nanofiber scaffolds by using an electro-spinning technique with attacin2 and a second gene, PLLA. They demonstrated in cell lines, that their material can be both biocompatible and biodegradable. In addition it can deliver controlled drug release effects. Using similar techniques, the team aims to scale-up production and investigate the morphology, surface chemical properties, biodegradability, cytotoxicity, cell proliferation and anti-infection properties of the new scaffolds for biomedical engineering.

Such integration of gene engineering techniques and fibre engineering technology is a field that holds high hopes for bioactive functional materials that could be used as artificial skin or reconstructed tissue and in treatment advances.

For further information contact:
Professor Li Yi
Institute of Textiles and Clothing
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Email: yi.li@polyu.edu.hk


The information in the article was written in May 2013 for Asia Research News 2013 print magazine. Please contact the researchers for the latest update