Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 512
Understanding the Uptake of Nanomedicines at Different Stages of Brain Cancer Using a Modular Nanocarrier Platform and Precision Bispecific Antibodies
Increasing accumulation and retention of nanomedicines within tumor tissue is a significant challenge, particularly in the case of brain tumors where access to the tumor through the vasculature is restricted by the blood–brain barrier (BBB). This makes the application of nanomedicines in neuro-oncology often considered unfeasible, with efficacy limited to regions of significant disease progression and compromised BBB. However, little is understood about how the evolving tumor–brain physiology during disease progression affects the permeability and retention of designer nanomedicines. We report here the development of a modular nanomedicine platform that, when used in conjunction with a unique model of how tumorigenesis affects BBB integrity, allows investigation of how nanomaterial properties affect uptake and retention in brain tissue. By combining different in vivo longitudinal imaging techniques (including positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging), we have evaluated the retention of nanomedicines with predefined physicochemical properties (size and surface functionality) and established a relationship between structure and tissue accumulation as a function of a new parameter that measures BBB leakiness; this offers significant advancements in our ability to relate tumor accumulation of nanomedicines to more physiologically relevant parameters. Our data show that accumulation of nanomedicines in brain tumor tissue is better correlated with the leakiness of the BBB than actual tumor volume. This was evaluated by establishing brain tumors using a spontaneous and endogenously derived glioblastoma model providing a unique opportunity to assess these parameters individually and compare the results across multiple mice. We also quantitatively demonstrate that smaller nanomedicines (20 nm) can indeed cross the BBB and accumulate in tumors at earlier stages of the disease than larger analogues, therefore opening the possibility of developing patient-specific nanoparticle treatment interventions in earlier stages of the disease. Importantly, these results provide a more predictive approach for designing efficacious personalized nanomedicines based on a particular patient’s condition.
The role of cations in regulating reaction pathways driven by Bacillus circulans β-galactosidase
A β-galactosidase (EC 220.127.116.11) from Bacillus circulans (Biolacta FN5) can catalyse transgalactosylation reactions with lactose as a donor. In addition to their function as cofactors and structural stabilisers in biocatalytic reactions, cations can play a role in salt-bridge interactions and electrostatic charge screening of proteins. In this work, we investigated the impact of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, commonly found in dairy whey systems, on the transgalactosylation kinetics of the β-galactosidase from Bacillus circulans. Both molecular modeling and quantitative experimental methods were used to assess enzyme aggregation and resulting loss in enzyme activity that is initiated by high concentrations of these cations. The effect of this loss in activity with time was studied during the transgalactosylation of N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) to N-acetyllactosamine (LacNAc) using lactose as the donor. No significant change in hydrolysis or transgalactosylation reaction kinetics was observed at low concentrations of divalent cations (Ca2+ or Mg2+) or up to 100 mM of monovalent cations (Na+ or K+). The enzymatic yield and selectivity, however, were significantly affected at concentrations of 100 mM of Ca2+ or Mg2+. These changes were the result of both the loss in enzyme activity and a reduction in the reaction rate constant for hydrolysis and formation of the undesired isomer, Allo-LacNAc. In particular, addition of magnesium enhanced the selectivity for LacNAc over Allo-LacNAc, with no significant reduction in the LacNAc yield. These findings suggest that cations can be employed to regulate the action of β-galactosidase during transgalactosylation through the formation of protein aggregates.
The application of forward osmosis to dairy processing
This work assesses the feasibility for concentrating process streams within dairy processing facilities using commercial forward osmosis membranes; to increase their total solids concentrations before entering energy intensive unit operations including thermal evaporators and spray dryers. These streams include demineralised whey, lactose, whey protein concentrate, sweet whey and skim milk. FTSH2O cellulose acetate (CTA) and Aquaporin flat sheet membranes are used with magnesium chloride concentrations of 1.66 ± 0.12 M as the draw solution. The experimental data are fitted to conventional mathematical models for forward osmosis, further modified by considering the nonlinear relationship between osmotic pressure and solute concentration. The diffusion coefficients of magnesium chloride in 1.6 M solutions at 10 °C, 20 °C and 50 °C are obtained and reported for the first time. Minimal fouling and a significantly smaller degree of concentration polarisation was observed on the membrane surface during lactose concentration compared to the concentration of other dairy solutions, due to the absence of proteins and calcium phosphate salts. The transfer of magnesium into the concentrated products was monitored and shown to be below 100 mg per 100 g dry powder. Acid cleaning alone was not effective in recovering pure water flux, and enzyme cleaners at neutral pH were needed given the limited pH tolerance (3–8) of the CTA membranes. Total solids concentrations of the concentrated dairy streams by forward osmosis (up to 40%) exceed those which can be achieved by nanofiltration and reverse osmosis (i.e., 15–20%). This study shows that forward osmosis is an effective approach to concentrate relevant dairy streams to achieve high concentration factors (e.g. >4 for sweet whey samples) without jeopardising product quality.
Direct solution-phase synthesis of 1T ' WSe2 nanosheets
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2019-02-12)
Crystal phase control in layered transition metal dichalcogenides is central for exploiting their different electronic properties. Access to metastable crystal phases is limited as their direct synthesis is challenging, restricting the spectrum of reachable materials. Here, we demonstrate the solution phase synthesis of the metastable distorted octahedrally coordinated structure (1T' phase) of WSe2 nanosheets. We design a kinetically-controlled regime of colloidal synthesis to enable the formation of the metastable phase. 1T' WSe2 branched few-layered nanosheets are produced in high yield and in a reproducible and controlled manner. The 1T' phase is fully convertible into the semiconducting 2H phase upon thermal annealing at 400 °C. The 1T' WSe2 nanosheets demonstrate a metallic nature exhibited by an enhanced electrocatalytic activity for hydrogen evolution reaction as compared to the 2H WSe2 nanosheets and comparable to other 1T' phases. This synthesis design can potentially be extended to different materials providing direct access of metastable phases.
Thickness-Dependent Characterization of Chemically Exfoliated TiS2 Nanosheets
(AMER CHEMICAL SOC, 2018-08-01)
Monolayer TiS2 is the lightest member of the transition metal dichalcogenide family with promising applications in energy storage and conversion systems. The use of TiS2 has been limited by the lack of rapid characterization of layer numbers via Raman spectroscopy and its easy oxidation in wet environment. Here, we demonstrate the layer-number-dependent Raman modes for TiS2. 1T TiS2 presents two characteristics of the Raman active modes, A1g (out-of-plane) and Eg (in-plane). We identified a characteristic peak frequency shift of the Eg mode with the layer number and an unexplored Raman mode at 372 cm-1 whose intensity changes relative to the A1g mode with the thickness of the TiS2 sheets. These two characteristic features of Raman spectra allow the determination of layer numbers between 1 and 5 in exfoliated TiS2. Further, we develop a method to produce oxidation-resistant inks of micron-sized mono- and few-layered TiS2 nanosheets at concentrations up to 1 mg/mL. These TiS2 inks can be deposited to form thin films with controllable thickness and nanosheet density over square centimeter areas. This opens up pathways for a wider utilization of exfoliated TiS2 toward a range of applications.
High-Mobility and High-Optical Quality Atomically Thin WS2
(NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-11-02)
The rise of atomically thin materials has the potential to enable a paradigm shift in modern technologies by introducing multi-functional materials in the semiconductor industry. To date the growth of high quality atomically thin semiconductors (e.g. WS2) is one of the most pressing challenges to unleash the potential of these materials and the growth of mono- or bi-layers with high crystal quality is yet to see its full realization. Here, we show that the novel use of molecular precursors in the controlled synthesis of mono- and bi-layer WS2 leads to superior material quality compared to the widely used direct sulfidization of WO3-based precursors. Record high room temperature charge carrier mobility up to 52 cm2/Vs and ultra-sharp photoluminescence linewidth of just 36 meV over submillimeter areas demonstrate that the quality of this material supersedes also that of naturally occurring materials. By exploiting surface diffusion kinetics of W and S species adsorbed onto a substrate, a deterministic layer thickness control has also been achieved promoting the design of scalable synthesis routes.
A multifunctional surfactant catalyst inspired by hydrolases
(AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE, 2020-04-01)
The remarkable power of enzymes to undertake catalysis frequently stems from their grouping of multiple, complementary chemical units within close proximity around the enzyme active site. Motivated by this, we report here a bioinspired surfactant catalyst that incorporates a variety of chemical functionalities common to hydrolytic enzymes. The textbook hydrolase active site, the catalytic triad, is modeled by positioning the three groups of the triad (-OH, -imidazole, and -CO2H) on a single, trifunctional surfactant molecule. To support this, we recreate the hydrogen bond donating arrangement of the oxyanion hole by imparting surfactant functionality to a guanidinium headgroup. Self-assembly of these amphiphiles in solution drives the collection of functional headgroups into close proximity around a hydrophobic nano-environment, affording hydrolysis of a model ester at rates that challenge α-chymotrypsin. Structural assessment via NMR and XRD, paired with MD simulation and QM calculation, reveals marked similarities of the co-micelle catalyst to native enzymes.
A proteomic characterization shows differences in the milk fat globule membrane of buffalo and bovine milk
(ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2017-09-01)
The proteins of the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) have a number of functions, such as the regulation of milk fat secretion and metabolism, the uptake and transportation of fatty acids in the intestine, and potential protection from bacterial or viral infection. While the proteome of the MFGM in bovine milk has been extensively characterized, knowledge of these proteins in buffalo milk is limited. In this study, a proteomic approach was used to characterize the proteome of the buffalo MFGM. Multiple extraction techniques were used to increase the number of proteins identified, while label free relative quantitative liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry was used for comparison between the buffalo and bovine MFGM proteomes. A total of 220 buffalo MFGM proteins and 234 bovine MFGM proteins were identified after being filtered from the initial dataset of 757 and 680 proteins, respectively. A sixfold higher concentration of xanthine oxidoreductase was identified per mass of buffalo MFGM protein extracted, together with significantly greater concentrations of platelet glycoprotein 4, heat shock cognate and calcineurin B homologous protein. The expression of xanthine oxidoreductase in the MFGM of buffalo milk, which can affect milk shelf-life and flavor, was confirmed by Western blot analysis and a heterogeneous distribution of this protein observed in situ on the surface of the MFGM. The high concentration of fat in buffalo milk, together with the differences in the MFGM proteome provide insights into the differences in nutritional profile, biological function and properties of these two milk products.
The Effect of Salt on the Structure of Individual Fat Globules and the Microstructure of Dry Salted Cheddar Cheese
Salting is an essential step in the production of Cheddar and other cheese varieties and is a well-studied process but the effect of salt addition on the microstructure of the milk ingredients and resulting cheese is not well known. This study provides insights into how the primary components in milk and the cheese matrix respond to salting. High concentrations of salt (15–25% (w/w) NaCl) disrupted fat globules due to the increased osmotic pressure. This led to fat coalescence, resulting in large fat globules >10 μm in diameter, together with submicron sized fat globules ~ 120–500 nm in diameter. Salt addition also prevented the visualization of the milk fat globule membrane when added at high concentrations (25% (w/w) NaCl) and induced asymmetry in liquid ordered domains at lower concentrations (10% (w/w) NaCl). The microstructure of the surface of the milled curd was compacted by salt, appearing coarse with 5% (w/w) NaCl or more hydrated with a denser protein structure with 2.5% (w/w) NaCl. After pressing, the curd junctions were fine and thin within the unsalted sample but coarse and thick where 5% (w/w) NaCl was added. Such coarse junctions appear to reduce binding between curd particles leading to a less cohesive cheese. Our results show that NaCl can significantly impact on the structure of fat and protein matrix of the curd surface if salt is not evenly distributed during dry salting. High concentrations of salt can also change the microstructure and texture of the cheese, resulting in a more heterogeneous product.
The addition of calcium chloride in combination with a lower draining pH to change the microstructure and improve fat retention in Cheddar cheese
(ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2015-07-01)
Calcium chloride addition and the whey draining pH are known to impact on cheese making. The effect of 100 or 300 mg kg−1 calcium chloride (CaCl2) and the whey draining pH (6.2 or 6.0) on the microstructure of Cheddar cheese was assessed using confocal and cryo scanning electron microscopy. The gel made with 300 mg kg−1 CaCl2 was found to have a denser protein network and smaller pores than the gel with lower or no CaCl2 addition. CaCl2 addition reduced fat lost to the sweet whey. The texture of the cheeses with a lower draining pH was harder and moisture content lower. Our results show that the combination of calcium addition and lower draining pH could be used to increase network formation at the early stages of cheese making to improve fat retention while maintaining a similar level of total calcium in the final cheese.