In this project, we will develop innovative injectable biodegradable systems (IBS) based on chitin for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. This is a natural-based, renewable and widely available organic polymer. The IBS will consist of the pristine polymer, or one derivative obtained by simple chemical/ enzymatic methods (oligomers, water soluble chitin). These polymers, or a mixture of them, will be subsequently modified by acrylation, thiolation or reductive alkylation in order to make the m capable of in situ hardening in the physiological environment. Innovative approaches will be also tested, in which two systems will be integrated into one single device, by forming a simultaneously gelling-cross-linking system, which uses Michel-type additions to cross-link previously gelled systems.
The developed IBS will be further evaluated for controlled release and tissue-engineering (mainly of cartilage) applications, two of the most currently required applications in the biomedical field. An environ mentally friendly approach will be applied in all steps of the research: what means we will try to minimize the amount of synthetic components, energy usage and chemical modification steps needed to accomplish the proposed objectives. Besides the research part, this project also foresees a range of other activities: teaching experience, advising of less-experienced researchers, complementary courses (on ethics, property protection, etc.), improvement of the presentation skills and attendance to conferences, among others.
The fellow is expected to get expertise in all topics relevant to research (and not only on the research itself). The final goal will be to prepare him to define his own strategies of action and his personal view of the science, in order to pursue a mature, independent research career. He will become a better-trained, more competitive researcher, and will therefore posses much more chances of developing a successful scientific career.
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