Supramolecular (Bio)materials: From Fundamentals to Advanced Healthcare Solutions
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Supramolecular biomaterials exploit rationally-designed non-covalent interactions to enable innovative approaches to drug formulation and delivery. For example, supramolecular interactions can be used to dynamically cross-link polymer networks, yielding shear-thinning and self-healing hydrogels that allow for minimally invasive implantation in vivo though direct injection or catheter delivery to tissues. In this talk, we will discuss the investigation of a hydrogel platform exploiting dynamic multivalent interactions between biopolymers and nanoparticles. These materials exhibit viscous flow under shear stress (shear-thinning) and rapid recovery of mechanical properties when the applied stress is relaxed (self-healing), afford minimally invasive implantation in vivo though direct injection. The hierarchical construction of these biphasic hydrogels allows for multiple therapeutic compounds to be entrapped simultaneously and delivered with identical release profiles, regardless of their chemical make-up, over user-defined timeframes ranging from days to months. These materials enable novel approaches to immunomodulatory therapies such as vaccines and cancer immunotherapies that rely on precise and sustained release of complex mixtures of compounds. We demonstrate that these unique characteristics enable the development of vaccines that greatly enhance the magnitude, quality, and durability of the humoral immune response. Overall, this presentation will demonstrate the utility of a supramolecular approach to the design of biomaterials affording unique opportunities in the formulation and controlled release of therapeutics.
Eric A. Appel is an Assistant Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Stanford University. He received his BS in Chemistry and MS in Polymer Science from California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo, CA. Eric performed his MS thesis research with Robert D. Miller and James L. Hedrick at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. He then obtained his PhD in Chemistry with Prof. Oren A. Scherman in the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis at the University of Cambridge. For his PhD work, Eric was the recipient of the Jon Weaver PhD prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Graduate Student Award from the Materials Research Society. Eric was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the NIH (NIBIB) and a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Prof. Robert Langer at MIT. During his post-doctoral work, he received a Margaret A. Cunningham Immune Mechanisms in Cancer Research Award. For his work at Stanford, Eric has been awarded a Hellman Faculty Fellowship and junior faculty development awards from the American Diabetes Association, the PhRMA Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.