A new project funded by the Swedish research council FORMAS will start in the group in 2016. We will be hard at work setting up mucin purification protocols in the lab and start working on mucin-based biomaterials. Here is a quick summary of the approved, which was funded 1 million swedish krona per years (~108 keuros), for 3 years.
Extraction, characterization, and use of mucin biopolymers for biomedical applications.
For thousands of years, and still today, humans have exploited natural materials for their benefit. For instance, wood-extracted cellulose fibers are used to make paper and animal-extracted hyaluronic acid is used in cosmetic anti wrinkle creams. In this proposal we will develop the use of mucins, i.e. a molecules extracted from mucus, for biomedical applications. Mucins are the main components of mucus, the gel that covers the wet epithelium of all mammals. Commonly secreted by animal tissues, they can be extracted from abundant sources such as pig stomachs and bovine submaxillary glands.
The study and technological use of mucins are hampered by the poor control over the quality of the mucins available. In this proposal, we first aim to develop a quality-control benchmark by measuring a series of physical and biochemical properties. Using this benchmark, we will then identify new processes to efficiently extract biomedical-grade mucin glycoproteins from animal tissues. Then, we will use high quality mucins to investigate their potential as a new building block for a new generation of medical devices. In particular, we will test the ability of pig gastric mucins to be assembled into hydrogels for the delivery of the epidermal growth factor (EGF). EGF is naturally found in the context of mucins, and could thus benefit from its association in an implantable material. Such material could serve as wound dressing to treat severe wounds.