OSU researchers with in-depth knowledge in two polymer fields: (1) conducting polymers incorporating electric, magnetic, optical, and ionic features and, (2) biodegradable polymers, have invented a copolymer that is not only electrically conducting but also biodegradable. The OSU inventors have used FDA-approved materials such as PLA and PCL monomers as raw material to develop this copolymer that merges electrical conductivity with biodegradable features similar to current biodegradable polymers.
The key components of the polymer technology are its ability to biodegrade, conduct electric current and be compatible with the body. These polymer compositions of matter are positioned to be market-sustaining solutions that should be of interest to current polymer material suppliers. The market for the copolymer composition have been envisioned as falling into three different classes: Class I – Polymer Materials for Packaging Applications, Class II – Biodegradable Polymers for Agricultural and Bio-device Applications, and Class III – Biomedical Applications.
Class I: Polymer Materials for Packaging Applications
OSU’s biodegradable conducting copolymers could be a potential material candidate for a variety of packaging applications as it is likely that these polymers have drop-in processing and competitive pricing. In addition, our copolymers would also allow material suppliers to reach new market segments such as environmental applications on dust pads and cleaning cloths, industrial applications at conductive clean room filters, air filters and water filters, electronic applications at biodegradable electronic components, ionic membranes, and biomedical applications such as biodegradable scaffolds, sensors, and probes – all due to the copolymer’s unique characteristics and functional performance.
Class II: Biodegradable Polymers for Agricultural, and Bio-device Applications
The use of agricultural devices to promote plant growth in a controlled environment is an expanding market that the copolymer materials could play to. Two current possible applications include the algal bio-fuel production industry and the ornamental plant supply industry. It has been widely reported that over $2 billion has been invested by large companies and their research partners to develop sustainable bio-fuel-producing algae systems – some subset of this investment would be for improved materials and systems. In addition, the ornamental plant market is well over a $100 billion industry and some subset of this industry is packaging materials.
Class III: Biomedical Applications
In recent years, the biomedical industry has seen an emergence of autologous medicine and therapeutics based upon cell biology approaches. The OSU copolymer could have high-value applications via Inter Digitated Electrodes (IDEs) to stimulate cell growth under the electric fields. A second significant market play for the copolymer is in biological scaffolding in uncontrolled environments, taking advantage of the electric and magnetic properties to stimulate cell growth and avoid the negative side effects of current methodologies (use of growth factors). The inventors have already developed the IDE prototype device and are moving into animal testing. Along with IDEs made from copolymers, the inventors have recently created an electric stimulation chamber to grow in vitro cells for research purposes. Cell growth of human osteosarcoma cells (HOS), bone marrow stem cells (BMSC), and murine calvarial osteoblast cells (MC3T3) are current test platforms.
1. Yanyin Yan, Y Min, Arthur J Epstein, Derek J Hansford, Stephen E Feinberg, Synthesis and Characterization of Biocompatible Sulfonated Polyanilines, Macromolecular Rapid Communications (submitted).
2. Y Min, J-C Wu, AJ Epstein, Synthesis and Characterization of Conducting Biodegradable Polyaniline Copolymers, JACS (in preparation).
3. Y Min, BE Hildreth III, J-C Wu, TJ Rosol, and AJ Epstein, Multilayer conducting scaffolds for BMSC electrical stimulation, Biomacromolecular (in preparation).