Design of new biomaterials

Inspired by nature, we are mimicing the natural bottom-up fabrication approach (assembling atom by atom or molecule by molecule) to create structures on the nanometer length scale. By utilizing molecules having the capacity to self-assemble into complex structures, new materials with novel properties can be developed. Of particular interest are the self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules that we use to form bone-like materials of calcium phosphates. Such materials are applied as coatings on medical devices such as osseointegrating implants and for the formation of bone-like nanocomposites. In the latter case, molecular self-assembly is combined with additive manufacturing including 3D-bioprinting technologies. Recently, we have initiated work on engineered protein based materials and currently we are focusing on elastin.
(This work is carried out by Anand Kumar, Saba Atefyekta, Karin Breding and Maria Pihl).

Design of new biomaterials


There is a demand for a new generation of implants with improved osseointegrating properties. We are exploring the possibility of using local drug-delivery, i.e. medical devices that can administrate drugs from its surface. This is being achieved by the use of mesoporous thin films of titania or by the use of polymers and proteins. The drug candidates being evaluated have the property to stimulate bone growth through various mechanisms. We believe that a local administration from the implant surface has many advantages compared to a systemic drug-delivery. For example, a lower drug dose would be needed and a more efficient treatment can be obtained. Furthermore, we are investigating the possibility to administrate antimicrobial peptides and antibiotics from materials including thin films and gels.
(This work is carried out by Saba Atefyekta, Anand Kumar, Maria Pihl, Mats Hulander, Ali Alenezi and Lukas Boge)

Bioanalytical sensing

Bioanalytical sensing devises are used to detect and determine biological analytes in different areas e.g. healthcare, agri-food, environment and in the security sector. Such devises consist of three major parts, a sensitive biological element (tissue, cell receptor, enzyme etc), a transducer or detector element that has the ability of transforming signals from interacting analytes with biological elements and an associated electronic or signal processor that can display the result. The principle behind the mode of detection varies between different devises: from optical to electrochemical or for example by using an ion channel switch. In our present research, bioanalytical sensing devises having ion channels embedded in tethered lipid bilayers (TLBs) are investigated, as illustrated in the image. Such a devise has the ability to stochastically sense low concentrations of analytes with high specificity.

Water purification

The objective of this research is to develop a state-of-the-art desalination technology, which can efficiently remove ions from saltwater and turn it into pure drinkable freshwater. The technology is based on a biomimicing approach utilizing our knowledge on how cells can control the flow of ions across its cell boundary. Such control is regulated through transmembrane proteins, so called aquaporins, that are functioning as valves located in the cell membrane. Through these proteins only water molecules are transported, making it possible to “filter” off ions. Aquaporins can be isolated from cell membranes and reconstituted into synthetic membranes with retained functions. A schematic of the device that is being developed is presented in the image.
(This work is conducted by Simon Isaksson).


Major concerns have recently been directed towards the possible toxicity of nanomaterials. This is due to their small size resulting in high specific surface area, and increased chemical and biological activity. Moreover, nanoparticles might more readily gain access to the human body compared to larger sized particles. Within this research field, we are focusing on how the properties of nanoparticles, such as size, shape, crystallinity and surface chemistry affects their ability to interact with and adsorb biological molecules, such as proteins, and how this influence the biological response and toxicity.

(This work is conducted by Emma Westas).

Fighting biomaterial associated infection

(This work is conducted by Emma Westas, Maria Pihl, Saba Atefyekta and Mats Hulander)