"Smart" biomaterials promise to revolutionize cancer treatment

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"Smart" biomaterials promise to revolutionize cancer treatment

Monday, 08.08.2016

Authors and Affiliations:

Yan LP1,2, Silva-Correia J1,2, Ribeiro VP1,2, Miranda-Gonçalves V2,3, Correia C1,2, da Silva Morais A1,2, Sousa RA1,2, Reis RM2,3,4, Oliveira AL1,2,5, Oliveira JM1,2, Reis RL1,2.

13B's Research Group-Biomaterials, Biodegradables and Biomimetics, University of Minho, Headquarters of the European Institute of Excellence on Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, AvePark, Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia, Zona Industrial da Gandra, 4805-017 Barco, Guimarães, Portugal.

2ICVS/3B's-PT Government Associate Laboratory, Braga/Guimarães, Portugal.

3Life and Health Science Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health Sciences, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, 4710-057 Braga, Portugal.

4Molecular Oncology Research Center, Barretos Cancer Hospital, Barretos, São Paulo, Brazil.

5CBQF-Center for Biotechnology and Fine Chemistry, School of Biotechnology, Portuguese Catholic University, Porto, 4200 - 072, Portugal.

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to J.M.O. (email: miguel.oliveira@dep.uminho.pt



Protein-based hydrogels with distinct conformations which enable encapsulation or differentiation of cells are of great interest in 3D cancer research models. Conformational changes may cause macroscopic shifts in the hydrogels, allowing for its use as biosensors and drug carriers. In depth knowledge on how 3D conformational changes in proteins may affect cell fate and tumor formation is required. Thus, this study reports an enzymatically crosslinked silk fibroin (SF) hydrogel system that can undergo intrinsic conformation changes from random coil to β-sheet conformation. In random coil status, the SF hydrogels are transparent, elastic, and present ionic strength and pH stimuli-responses. The random coil hydrogels become β-sheet conformation after 10 days in vitro incubation and 14 days in vivo subcutaneous implantation in rat. When encapsulated with ATDC-5 cells, the random coil SF hydrogel promotes cell survival up to 7 days, whereas the subsequent β-sheet transition induces cell apoptosis in vitro. HeLa cells are further incorporated in SF hydrogels and the constructs are investigated in vitro and in an in vivo chick chorioallantoic membrane model for tumor formation. In vivo, Angiogenesis and tumor formation are suppressed in SF hydrogels. Therefore, these hydrogels provide new insights for cancer research and uses of biomaterials.


Journal: Scientific Reports


Link: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep31037