Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 601
High frequency acoustic cell stimulation promotes exosome generation regulated by a calcium-dependent mechanism.
(Nature Research, 2020-10-05)
Exosomes are promising disease diagnostic markers and drug delivery vehicles, although their use in practice is limited by insufficient homogeneous quantities that can be produced. We reveal that exposing cells to high frequency acoustic irradiation stimulates their generation without detriment to cell viability by exploiting their innate membrane repair mechanism, wherein the enhanced recruitment of calcium ions from the extracellular milieu into the cells triggers an ESCRT pathway known to orchestrate exosomal production. Given the high post-irradiation cell viabilities (≈95%), we are able to recycle the cells through iterative irradiation and post-excitation incubation steps, which facilitate high throughput production of a homogeneous population of exosomes-a particular challenge for translating exosome therapy into clinical practice. In particular, we show that approximately eight- to ten-fold enrichment in the number of exosomes produced can be achieved with just 7 cycles over 280 mins, equivalent to a yield of around 1.7-2.1-fold/h.
Progress and Perspectives Beyond Traditional RAFT Polymerization
The development of advanced materials based on well‐defined polymeric architectures is proving to be a highly prosperous research direction across both industry and academia. Controlled radical polymerization techniques are receiving unprecedented attention, with reversible‐deactivation chain growth procedures now routinely leveraged to prepare exquisitely precise polymer products. Reversible addition‐fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization is a powerful protocol within this domain, where the unique chemistry of thiocarbonylthio (TCT) compounds can be harnessed to control radical chain growth of vinyl polymers. With the intense recent focus on RAFT, new strategies for initiation and external control have emerged that are paving the way for preparing well‐defined polymers for demanding applications. In this work, the cutting‐edge innovations in RAFT that are opening up this technique to a broader suite of materials researchers are explored. Emerging strategies for activating TCTs are surveyed, which are providing access into traditionally challenging environments for reversible‐deactivation radical polymerization. The latest advances and future perspectives in applying RAFT‐derived polymers are also shared, with the goal to convey the rich potential of RAFT for an ever‐expanding range of high‐performance applications.
Cytochrome P450-mediated N-demethylation of noscapine by whole-cell biotransformation: process limitations and strategies for optimisation
(Springer Verlag, 2020-07-01)
Cytochrome P450 enzymes catalyse reactions of significant industrial interest but are underutilised in large-scale bioprocesses due to enzyme stability, cofactor requirements and the poor aqueous solubility and microbial toxicity of typical substrates and products. In this work, we investigate the potential for preparative-scale N-demethylation of the opium poppy alkaloid noscapine by a P450BM3 (CYP102A1) mutant enzyme in a whole-cell biotransformation system. We identify and address several common limitations of whole-cell P450 biotransformations using this model N-demethylation process. Mass transfer into Escherichia coli cells was found to be a major limitation of biotransformation rate and an alternative Gram-positive expression host Bacillus megaterium provided a 25-fold improvement in specific initial rate. Two methods were investigated to address poor substrate solubility. First, a biphasic biotransformation system was developed by systematic selection of potentially biocompatible solvents and in silico solubility modelling using Hansen solubility parameters. The best-performing biphasic system gave a 2.3-fold improvement in final product titre compared to a single-phase system but had slower initial rates of biotransformation due to low substrate concentration in the aqueous phase. The second strategy aimed to improve aqueous substrate solubility using cyclodextrin and hydrophilic polymers. This approach provided a fivefold improvement in initial biotransformation rate and allowed a sixfold increase in final product concentration. Enzyme stability and cell viability were identified as the next parameters requiring optimisation to improve productivity. The approaches used are also applicable to the development of other pharmaceutical P450-mediated biotransformations.
Dynamic diversity of synthetic supramolecular polymers in water as revealed by hydrogen/deuterium exchange
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-05-15)
Numerous self-assembling molecules have been synthesized aiming at mimicking both the structural and dynamic properties found in living systems. Here we show the application of hydrogen/deuterium exchange (HDX) mass spectrometry (MS) to unravel the nanoscale organization and the structural dynamics of synthetic supramolecular polymers in water. We select benzene-1,3,5-tricarboxamide (BTA) derivatives that self-assemble in H2O to illustrate the strength of this technique for supramolecular polymers. The BTA structure has six exchangeable hydrogen atoms and we follow their exchange as a function of time after diluting the H2O solution with a 100-fold excess of D2O. The kinetic H/D exchange profiles reveal that these supramolecular polymers in water are dynamically diverse; a notion that has previously not been observed using other techniques. In addition, we report that small changes in the molecular structure can be used to control the dynamics of synthetic supramolecular polymers in water.
Synthesis and photocatalytic activity of mesoporous g-C3N4/MoS2 hybrid catalysts
(Royal Society, The, 2018-05-01)
The key to solving environmental and energy issues through photocatalytic technology requires highly efficient, stable and eco-friendly photocatalysts. Graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) is one of the most promising candidates except for its limited photoactivity. In this work, a facile and scalable one-step method is developed to fabricate an efficient heterostructural g-C3N4 photocatalyst in situ coupled with MoS2. The strong coupling effect between the MoS2 nanosheets and g-C3N4 scaffold, numerous mesopores and enlarged specific surface area helped form an effective heterojunction. As such, the photocatalytic activity of the g-C3N4/MoS2 is more than three times higher than that of the pure g-C3N4 in the degradation of RhB under visible light irradiation. Improvement of g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalytic performance is mainly ascribed to the effective suppression of the recombination of charge carriers.
Layered Trichalcogenidophosphate: A New Catalyst Family for Water Splitting
(SHANGHAI JIAO TONG UNIV PRESS, 2018-10-01)
Due to the rapidly increasing demand for energy and environmental sustainability, stable and economical hydrogen production has received increasing attention in the past decades. In this regard, hydrogen production through photo- or electrocatalytic water splitting has continued to gain ever-growing interest. However, the existing catalysts are still unable to fulfill the demands of high-efficiency, low-cost, and sustainable hydrogen production. Layered metal trichalcogenidophosphate (MPQ3) is a newly developed two-dimensional material with tunable composition and electronic structure. Recently, MPQ3 has been considered a promising candidate for clean energy generation and related water splitting applications. In this minireview, we firstly introduce the structure and methods for the synthesis of MPQ3 materials. In the following sections, recent developments of MPQ3 materials for photo- and electrocatalytic water splitting are briefly summarized. The roles of MPQ3 materials in different reaction systems are also discussed. Finally, the challenges related to and prospects of MPQ3 materials are presented on the basis of the current developments.
A Rationally Designed Hsp70 Variant Rescues the Aggregation-Associated Toxicity of Human IAPP in Cultured Pancreatic Islet β-Cells.
(MDPI AG, 2018-05-12)
Molecular chaperones are key components of the protein homeostasis system against protein misfolding and aggregation. It has been recently shown that these molecules can be rationally modified to have an enhanced activity against specific amyloidogenic substrates. The resulting molecular chaperone variants can be effective inhibitors of protein aggregation in vitro, thus suggesting that they may provide novel opportunities in biomedical and biotechnological applications. Before such opportunities can be exploited, however, their effects on cell viability should be better characterised. Here, we employ a rational design method to specifically enhance the activity of the 70-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp70) against the aggregation of the human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP, also known as amylin). We then show that the Hsp70 variant that we designed (grafted heat shock protein 70 kDa-human islet amyloid polypeptide, GHsp70-hIAPP) is significantly more effective than the wild type in recovering the viability of cultured pancreatic islet β-cells RIN-m5F upon hIAPP aggregation. These results indicate that a full recovery of the toxic effects of hIAPP aggregates on cultured pancreatic cells can be achieved by increasing the specificity and activity of Hsp70 towards hIAPP, thus providing evidence that the strategy presented here provides a possible route for rationally tailoring molecular chaperones for enhancing their effects in a target-dependent manner.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A focus on network mechanisms and state dependence
(ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2018-01-01)
Background: Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that has shown promise as an adjunct treatment for the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Establishing a clear clinical role for TMS in the treatment of OCD is contingent upon evidence of significant efficacy and reliability in reducing symptoms. Objectives: We present the basic principles supporting the effects of TMS on brain activity with a focus on network-based theories of brain function. We discuss the promises and pitfalls of this technique as a means of modulating brain activity and reducing OCD symptoms. Methods: Synthesis of trends and critical perspective on the potential benefits and limitations of TMS interventions in OCD. Findings: Our critical synthesis suggests the need to better quantify the role of TMS in a clinical setting. The context in which the stimulation is performed, the neural principles supporting the effects of local stimulation on brain networks, and the heterogeneity of neuroanatomy are often overlooked in the clinical application of TMS. The lack of consideration of these factors may partly explain the variable efficacy of TMS interventions for OCD symptoms. Conclusions: Results from existing clinical studies and emerging knowledge about the effects of TMS on brain networks are encouraging but also highlight the need for further research into the use of TMS as a means of selectively normalising OCD brain network dynamics and reducing related symptoms. The combination of neuroimaging, computational modelling, and behavioural protocols known to engage brain networks affected by OCD has the potential to improve the precision and therapeutic efficacy of TMS interventions. The efficacy of this multimodal approach remains, however, to be established and its effective translation in clinical contexts presents technical and implementation challenges. Addressing these practical, scientific and technical issues is required to assess whether OCD can take its place alongside major depressive disorder as an indication for the use of TMS.
Person-Specific Biomolecular Coronas Modulate Nanoparticle Interactions with Immune Cells in Human Blood.
(American Chemical Society (ACS), 2020-10-28)
When nanoparticles interact with human blood, a multitude of plasma components adsorb onto the surface of the nanoparticles, forming a biomolecular corona. Corona composition is known to be influenced by the chemical composition of nanoparticles. In contrast, the possible effects of variations in the human blood proteome between healthy individuals on the formation of the corona and its subsequent interactions with immune cells in blood are unknown. Herein, we prepared and examined a matrix of 11 particles (including organic and inorganic particles of three sizes and five surface chemistries) and plasma samples from 23 healthy donors to form donor-specific biomolecular coronas (personalized coronas) and investigated the impact of the personalized coronas on particle interactions with immune cells in human blood. Among the particles examined, poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG)-coated mesoporous silica (MS) particles, irrespective of particle size (800, 450, or 100 nm in diameter), displayed the widest range (up to 60-fold difference) of donor-dependent variance in immune cell association. In contrast, PEG particles (after MS core removal) of 860, 518, or 133 nm in diameter displayed consistent stealth behavior (negligible cell association), irrespective of plasma donor. For comparison, clinically relevant PEGylated doxorubicin-encapsulated liposomes (Doxil) (74 nm in diameter) showed significant variance in association with monocytes and B cells across all plasma donors studied. An in-depth proteomic analysis of each biomolecular corona studied was performed, and the results were compared against the nanoparticle-blood cell association results, with individual variance in the proteome driving differential association with specific immune cell types. We identified key immunoglobulin and complement proteins that explicitly enriched or depleted within the corona and which strongly correlated with the cell association pattern observed across the 23 donors. This study demonstrates how plasma variance in healthy individuals significantly influences the blood immune cell interactions of nanoparticles.
2D Nanosheets and Their Composite Membranes for Water, Gas, and Ion Separation
(WILEY-V C H VERLAG GMBH, 2019-07-18)
Two-dimensional nanosheets have shown great potential for separation applications because of their exceptional molecular transport properties. Nanosheet materials such as graphene oxides, metal-organic frameworks, and covalent organic frameworks display unique, precise, and fast molecular transport through nanopores and/or nanochannels. However, the dimensional instability of nanosheets in harsh environments diminishes the membrane performance and hinders their long-term operation in various applications such as gas separation, water desalination, and ion separation. Recent progress in nanosheet membranes has included modification by crosslinking and functionalization that has improved the stability of the membranes, their separation functionality, and the scalability of membrane formation while the membranes' excellent molecular transport properties are retained. These improvements have enhanced the potential of nanosheet membranes in practical applications such as separation processes.