We aim to direct cellular behavior by means of material properties. In order to achieve this, a fundamental understanding needs to be created how cells respond to materials, in particular towards several parameters simultaneously. Parameters such as stiffness, chemical composition (charge, polarity, non-covalent interactions, hydrophobicity etc.), and topography are parameters known to drastically influence cellular behaviors. When the single parameters influence the behavior of cells then combined parameters do this as well and not necessarily in a predictive fashion. We study this using complex multiparameter interfaces and nanomaterials.
We use various approaches to tailor properties of (nano)materials. This can be structural features on surfaces such as surface topography or mechanical properties or chemical properties altering surface chemistry of materials or chemical composition of nanostructures. The major tools that we use are:
- Complex surface gradients
- Nanogels, hydrogel nanoparticles
The above systems allow us to alter the properties and combine them with various cell types including mesenchymal stem cells, macrophages, fibroblasts, muscle sattelite cells (muscle stem cells), and many others for understanding how we can enhance or direct processes such as differentiation behavior, tissue/cell morphology, migration, cellular uptake, foreign body response (fibrosis), and cell training/memory implantation. For studying many of these aspects, we collaborate with experts in the field and thereby combining materials science and chemistry with engineering and expert biological and medical experience.