Biopolymers: Biomedical applications
Biopolymers play important roles both in the functioning of all organisms from bacteria to humans. They are also important materials for a wide range of biomedical applications. Within NOBIPOL we currently focus on the following areas:
Development of alginated based capsules for immobilisation of human cells
Using algal or bacterial alginates we develop microcapsules which contain living cells. When implanted into the body they may function as artificial organs, e.g. pancreas in the case of diabetes mellitus. For the capsules to function properly we need to design novel biopolymers (alginates), and understand in detail their behavior. At present the encapsulation group runs a series of research projects.
Chitosan-based DNA nanoparticle for gene delivery and transfection
Chitosans, typically isolated from the shell of shrimp, has the ability to react with DNA and compact it to produce a nanoparticle. Such nanoparticles are more readily taken up by cells. In this way we can transfer novel genes into cells, either for therapeutic purposes (gene therapy) or as an important method to study cell functions. NOBIPOL has patented two novel technologies which is licensed to the industry. We co-operate with Uppsala University (Dept. of Pharmacy, Prof. Per Artursson) in this project, which involves both students and researchers. Novel chitosan derivatives include hyperbranched structures.
Soluble, bioactive b-1,3-glucans (SBG)
Branched 1,3-linked b-glucans are a large family of polysaccharides with biological activities. We study the chemical and physical properties of SBG obtained from the cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisae in collaboration with Biotech Pharmacon, Tromsø. SBG is currently evaluated as a medical device for treatment of diabetic ulcers and prevention and treatment of oral mucositis.
Concordix soft-gel capsules
A novel type of soft-gel capsules has been developed by NOBIPOL and is currently commercialised by Ayanda
G-blocks are structural components of alginates which are currently studied as mucolytic agents and also gelling modifiers for calcium alginate gels. Collaboration: AlgiPharma AS, NTNU TTO.
Laminaria sp: Brown algae that are used for industrial production of alginates.
Human islets (insulin producing cells) encapsulated in alginate. The cells have been stained to show live (green) and dead (red) cells. (100x magnification)