Work group "SkinNext" at Fraunhofer IMWS in Halle
The former elastin research group "Elastin" headed by Dr. Christian Schmelzer, that was located at the Martin Luther University Halle, moved to the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS in Halle (Saale) in July 2016. The new group named “SkinNext" is funded by the Fraunhofer Internal Program Attract and focuses on developing and fabricating novel protein-based biomaterials for medical applications based on structural proteins of the extracellular matrix such as collagens and elastin.
Elastin isolated from bovine aorta. Elastic fibers can
be stretched up to 150 % before rupture.
The main aspects of the present research and development are design and characterization of protein-based biomaterials. Biomaterials in general serve as substitutes for body’s own tissues in medicine and are for example used as wound dressings or implant coatings. The materials need to fulfil the requirements of biocompatibility, immunological innocuousness and, according to the intended use, also biological as well as mechanical stability and resistance. For this purpose, the biomaterials developed by our group are based on extracellular structural proteins. Those cross-linked biopolymers possess the above-mentioned properties and give body tissues elasticity, tensile strength and resilience.
We are especially making use of the unique mechanical properties of elastin to fabricate elastic biomaterials by using techniques such as electrospinning. The simultaneous use of elastin with other (structural) proteins is used to design composite materials for specific applications.
In vitro cross-linked tropoelastin as base material for
A further step in stabilizing the biomaterials and tuning their properties is the inducement of covalent cross-links and the control of the cross-linking degree. Therefore we are interested in the development of novel reagents that initiate the native lysine-based cross-linking pattern found in elastin and collagen. We are using a broad spectrum of methods and techniques for the characterization of protein-based biomaterials such as high-resolution mass spectrometry, electron and atomic force microscopy, µ- and nano-CT, biochemical tests, amino acid analysis and cell culturing to determine all important mechanical, structural and biochemical parameters.
Members of the work group SkinNext at Fraunhofer IMWS:
Dr. rer. nat. Christian Schmelzer
Dr.-Ing. Andrea Friedmann
Tobias Kürbitz, M. Sc. (visiting scientist, HS Anhalt)
Tobias Hedtke, M. Sc.
Arpita Desai, M. Sc.
Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikrostruktur von Werkstoffen und Systemen IMWS
06120 Halle (Saale)