Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - BIOMORPH (Novel dynamic self-assembling system: from hierarchical and biomimetic morphogenesis to functional materials)

“Biomorph” aims to develop a reproducible and tuneable self-assembling strategy to create a dynamic material that can be grown to acquire complex geometries and can be engineered to fabricate bioactive and biomimetic scaffolds. We are progressing according to plan. In the first two years we have successfully designed a material that integrates elastin-like proteins (ELPs) with peptide amphiphiles (PAs) and exhibits the capacity to grow into desired shapes. The remarkable properties observed in the resulting materials at the macroscale are completely dependent on events taking place at the molecular level. Therefore, a major part of the work has been focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms by conducting a large variety of systematic analytical experiments. Once the mechanisms were elucidated, major efforts were dedicated to engineer reproducible fabrication methods to create robust and bioactive vascular-like tubes. We have also conducted preliminary tests, using both adipose derived stem cells and endothelial cells, to demonstrate that the material is functional and can be used to selectively signal cells. These are encouraging results, which support our vision of developing vascular-like tubular structures using peptides and proteins.

We are now focusing our efforts on a) optimizing the bioactivity of the membrane to b) maximizing cell adhesion, proliferation, and cell growth, c) improving the mechanical properties of the membrane, and d) fabricating a fluidic device using our self-assembling tubes. We will be focusing this platform towards recreating elements of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Based on the results we have achieved so far, we are on track with respect to the four deliverables highlighted at the start of the project. First, we expect that we will finalize the synthesis of the different molecular building-blocks used throughout the project. Second, we expect that we will have a good understanding of the most important steps of the molecular mechanism, as they relate to both the formation/engineering of the scaffold as well as the biological activity. Third, we expect that we will be able to engineer a fluidic system where at least part of it will be made from our biomimetic tubes, enabling a more physiologic scenario. Finally, based on these expected results, we anticipate to be able to engineer vascular-like structures made from both molecular building-blocks and cells that are found in the natural tissue.

This work pushes the boundaries of biofabrication by enabling the sculpturing of complex geometrical structures using functional biomolecules. It has the capacity to recreate important elements of natural tissues, which can be used to either study diseases in vitro or be used to replace body parts in vivo. We envision the use of this self-assembling system to create biomimetic in vitro models that can be used to better test and screen drugs or study biological processes as well as small diameter vascular grafts for implantation. Results have been published in Inostroza-Brito et al., Nature Chemistry 2015 ( and are highlighted in our website:


Greg Dow, (EU Pre-award officer)
Tel.: +44 20 7882 2569


Life Sciences
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