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INSTITUTE OF BIOFUNCTIONAL POLYMER MATERIALS

The new paper Sulfonated cryogel scaffolds for focal delivery in ex-vivo brain tissue cultures by Dimitri Eigel, Romy Schuster, Max J. Männel, Julian Thiele, Martyna J. Panasiuk, Laura C. Andreae, Carmine Varicchio, Andrea Brancale, Petra B. Welzel, Wieland B. Huttner, Carsten Werner, Ben Newland and Katherine R. Long presents a novel user-friendly and robust cryogel-based tool for site-specific and reproducible manipulation of human brain tissue in culture. The completely synthetic, line-shaped, sulfonated microscale cryogels can reversibly bind and focally deliver dyes and reagents to ex-vivo primary tissue without tissue damage. This innovate approach has a great potential to enable the visualization and tracking of individual cells and can be further developed to focally apply pharmacologically active or genetically modifying substances to defined regions of tissue explants or slice cultures. The paper was published in Biomaterials.
Maximilian Fusenig and Nicholas Dennison took part in the photo contest 2021 of the company ibidi and their picture was chosen to be published in the month of April. The picture shows the complex network formation of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), embedded in a degradable (poly)ethyleneglycol-heparin hydrogel. HUVECs are distinguished via CD31 expression (green), F-actin is labelled with phalloidin (red), and nuclei are stained with DRAQ5 (blue). The picture was acquired with a 10x objective on an Andor Dragonfly confocal microscope.
Professor Daniela Lössner will establish a research group at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer research e.V. (IPF), working on the development of 3D cell culture platforms for research into new therapies for pancreatic cancer. The project is based on the Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC CoG).
Daniela Lössner will create cancer models in 3D cell cultures by replicating living tissue, combining biological and synthetic material components. This promising, powerful approach is only being pursued by a few scientists worldwide. So far, established models in cancer research are based on tumors from mice and contain undefined amounts of extracellular matrix and growth factors. The 3D cancer model that Daniela Lössner plans to develop will reflect the composition of the tissue more realistically and allow patient-specific recreation of the pancreatic tumor environment and its structural and biomechanical properties.
Daniela Lössner is convinced that will make it much easier to study, understand and predict how tumors behave in patients and how malignant and non-malignant cells respond to novel treatments. ERC Consolidator Grants are among the most highly endowed and prestigious funding awards of the European Union. They are awarded to established top researchers who have already achieved excellent research results.
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) has decided to grant the collaborative project „Expanding the matrix space – modulating growth factor signals by cell instructive glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-peptide hydrogels with customizable viscoelastic properties“ (co-PIs Dr. Ayala Lampel, Tel Aviv University and Carsten Werner, IPF).

The project will aim at developing cell-instructive multicomponent 3D matrices formed by interactions between GAGs of gradated sulfation pattern and bifunctional peptide building blocks. The approach is expected to deliver a range of new GAG/peptide materials with tailored chemical composition, structures, and tunable viscoelastic properties as well as new insights into the sequence-structure relationship in hybrid supramolecular biomaterials.
The Dresden-based start-up Neuron-D GmbH is developing a high-throughput system for testing drug candidates to treat neurodegenerative diseases on the basis of a license agreement with the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF).
The technology is based on a method jointly developed by the DZNE and IPF for the production of 3D cell cultures. This makes it possible to reproduce key features of neurons in the human brain and the disease process associated with neurodegeneration.

The method was based on the hydrogel technology developed at the IPF by Prof. Dr. Carsten Werner and Dr. Uwe Freudenberg.

Press release
The TU Dresden and Carl Zeiss AG signed a cooperation agreement on February 17th, 2021 to establish a long-term strategic partnership. This is intended to consolidate cooperation in the areas of research, teaching and innovation, advanced training and internationalization as well as recruiting.
The IPF, which is primarily linked to the TU Dresden through six joint professorships, is involved in joint projects - specifically already in a first project activity, which will be located at the Else Kröner Fresenius Center for Digital Health (EKFZ) and will be developed in cooperation with the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden (Prof. Jochen Hampe) as well as the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research (Prof. Carsten Werner).
As a first research focus organoid models were selected. Organoids are artificially produced tissue parts that are very similar to human organs such as the liver and thus open up completely new, modern working possibilities for researchers.
Press release TU Dresden
Press release Carl Zeiss AG
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will support Dr. Alessia Besford over the next three years through her project „Understanding the Biomolecular Corona Formation at the Nano-Bio Interface: Toward the Development of Immune Evasive Nanoparticles“.

Nanoparticles are promising candidates for application in controlled drug delivery. A key challenge in this pursuit is overcoming the rapid clearance of administered particles from the blood stream. Implementing stealth (avoidance of cellular recognition and internalization) and low-fouling (protein resistance) properties to the nanoparticles, is commonly and broadly achieved through functionalization with hydrophilic and charge-neutral polymers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG). In the proposed project, this traditional approach is challenged to “shield” nanoparticles from immune recognition using stealth and low-fouling technologies, and propose a shift towards exploiting immunomodulatory biomolecules on the nanomaterial structure that are capable of inhibiting immune-mediated destruction.
The new paper The protein component of oyster glycogen nanoparticles: An anchor point for functionalization by Quinn A. Besford, Alessia C. G. Weiss, Jonas Schubert, Timothy M. Ryan, Manfred F. Maitz, Pietro Pacchin Tomanin, Marco Savioli, Carsten Werner, Andreas Fery, Frank Caruso and Francesca Cavalieri explores the functionalization of oyster glycogen nanoparticles via their protein component. Here thermo-responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) was grafted to endow the particles with temperature-responsive aggregation properties. The functionalization was reversible by protease treatment and did not alter the immunogenicity of the particles. Functionalization of the protein component of oyster glycogen nanoparticles therefore extends the possibilities to apply these particles in nanomedicine, as published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) will support Dr. Mirko Nitschke over the next three years through his project „3D structure and dynamics of plasma-treated polymer materials“.

Low pressure plasma techniques are versatile tools for surface modification of polymeric materials. A wide range of physical and chemical effects can be achieved in the near-surface region. However, actual depth profiles of material properties are often neither known quantitatively nor utilized to full capacity. The research project sets out to overcome this limitation by looking in detail at exemplary and application-relevant cases. A range of complementary and partly new surface diagnostic techniques, capable of depth profiling on a sub-micron scale, is employed to demonstrate additional degrees of freedom for surface and interface engineering of polymeric materials.
The Else Kröner Fresenius Center for Digital Health (EKFZ) will support the project „VirChip – Point-of-Care/Need isothermal RNA/DNA detection“ over the next two years.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic the need for reliable and rapid testing manifests itself as a fundamental requirement to adequately cope with any worldwide health crisis resulting from infectious diseases. Another zoonotic epidemic is just around the corner. Detecting the threat and isolating contagious patients requires effective, thoughtfully organized, well-equipped, and importantly, rapid testing facilities. Here, we propose to develop an innovative diagnostic Point-of-Care/Need tool: VirChip.
The goal of VirChip is to offer a versatile, flexible platform for parallel viral and bacterial pathogen identification and suitable to detect pathogenic viruses e.g. Influenza A/B, corona viruses such as SARS-CoV2, or respiratory syncytial virus as well as antibiotic multi-resistant bacterial strains like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a single microfluidic chip equipped with a fully integrated manifold and detection system. We will provide a powerful diagnostic tool for quick and precise detection of viral or bacterial pathogens in order to prevent the spread of contagious disease and hospital-acquired infections.