Sample preparation

Research of the RTG M-M-M

Antimicrobial biomaterials with tailored structures and properties
Sample preparation
Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

The RTG's M-M-M Research Projects

Project A

Switchable antimicrobial materials

Biomaterial implants are frequently used for the treatment of bone injuries or diseases, which can be complicated by biomaterial associated infections (BAIs). These infections are a major clinical challenge, as they are difficult-to-treat and often require implant replacement.

In our team we aim to develop novel antibiotic-free antimicrobial biomaterials that prevent infections by physical principles on demand and in the long-time course. We aim to develop novel switchable antimicrobial materials that prevent the adhesion of microorganisms and at the same time promote the growth of bone cells. The materials will be tested by in-vitro cultures and in cell culture systems against different microbes, and their virulent behavior will be monitored throughout the microbial contamination process. Furthermore, a potential stimulating effect of the materials on bone cells will be tested for promotion of implant integration.

A materials scientist and a life scientist (microbiology) will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): K. D. Jandt (FSU), B. Löffler (UKJ)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “A: Switchable antimicrobial materials (Jandt), Materials Science” or “A: Switchable antimicrobial materials (Löffler), Microbiology” respectively.

Project B

Antimicrobial and bioactive nanoparticle functionalized protein coatings

The initial concept of the “race for the surface“ considered osteoblasts and microbes. However, this process is further affected by inflammation from tissue injury and material implantation. Important in this process is the microenvironment at the implant-tissue interface, consisting of protein fibers of the extracellular matrix (ECM) that impact endogenous cell adhesion. Based on this knowledge, biomimetic ECM like implant coatings have been developed.

Our team aims to develop novel antimicrobial biomaterials coatings based on proteins and their superstructures that inhibit bacterial adhesion and promote osteoblast growth. The latter will be further enhanced by bone cell promoting nanoparticles. We will identify the optimal composition of the protein-based materials by cell biological and microbiological methods. Light will be shed on the time dependence of the cellular events in osteoblasts, macrophages and microbes.

A biomaterials scientist and a life scientist (cell biology) will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): K. D. Jandt (FSU), B. Wildemann (UKJ)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “B: Antimicrobial and bioactive nanoparticle functionalized protein coatings (Jandt), Biomaterials Science” or “B: Antimicrobial and bioactive nanoparticle functionalized protein coatings (Wildemann), Cell Biology” respectively.

Project C:

Antimicrobial bioactive glass for treatment of traumatic or pathological bone defects

Biomaterial-associated infections (BAI) may occur when biomaterial implants are used to treat injured and/or diseased bone. The treatment of these infections is a major clinical challenge.

Innovative biomaterials inhibit microbial adhesion, allowing to win the "race for the surface" of microbes vs. host cells and preventing BAIs. Bioactive glass (BG) granules for example are used in clinical bone regeneration. They enable bone cell adhesion and proliferation and stimulate cell maturation and bone formation. We aim to identify and develop routes to custom-design BG compositions which simultaneously stimulate osteoblasts proliferation and prevent microbial adhesion.

The BG scaffolds will be evaluated by in vitro cultures, including antimicrobial testing using clinical strains.

A materials scientist (glass) and a life scientist (cell biologist) will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): D. S. Brauer (FSU), G. Matziolis (UKJ)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “C: Antimicrobial bioactive glass for treatment of traumatic or pathological bone (Brauer), Materials Science” or “C: Antimicrobial bioactive glass for treatment of traumatic or pathological bone Life Science (Matziolis), Cell Biology” respectively.

Project D

Graphene based antimicrobial biomaterials

Graphene-based biomaterials offer an innovative alternative for orthopedic implants. These materials have antimicrobial properties and, at the same time, promote bone cell growth. These implants are important to prevent the development of difficult-to-treat bacterial infections.

In our multidisciplinary team we aim to develop novel biomaterials based on graphene that impair the growth of microorganisms and enhance the growth of bone cells. In this project, materials based on modified graphene will be designed and characterized by innovative physical methods such as atomic force microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and surface plasmon resonance measurements. Furthermore, the materials will be tested under in vitro conditions to characterize their antimicrobial as well as their host cell promoting properties. These studies include microbial adhesion and killing.

A materials scientist (chemistry of materials) and a life scientist (microbiology) will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): A. Turchanin (FSU), L. Tuchscherr (UKJ)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “D: Graphene based antimicrobial biomaterials (Turchanin), Materials Science” or “D: Graphene based antimicrobial biomaterials (Tuchscherr), Microbiology,” respectively.

Project E

Microbiological tests of materials platform

Project E aims to establish sensitive observation and quantification approaches to evaluate microbial adhesion properties in a standardized way, and to explore the underlying molecular mechanisms of adaptation to novel antimicrobial materials. The project combines biomedical studies with optical microscopy technology development, and two doctoral researchers (DRs) from these disciplines will work closely together. The life science DR will investigate the antimicrobial properties of the materials using in vitro models and will assess the dynamics of proteins involved in microbial adhesion on a molecular level applying transcriptomics and bioinformatics. This project will provide a testing platform for the materials developed in the other projects and gain knowledge needed to improve their anti-adhesive and antimicrobial properties. The microscopy DR will focus on the optimization of advanced optical microscopy techniques and microfluidics to develop standard protocols for quantifying and exploring microbial adhesion.

A life scientist (microbiology) and a physicist (microscopy) will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): M. Pletz (UKJ), C. Eggeling (FSU)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “E: Microbiological tests of materials platform (Pletz), Microbiology” or “E: Microbiological tests of materials platform (Eggeling), Microscopy”, respectively.

Project F

Digitized antimicrobial biomaterials semantic knowledge base

Computer-aided data processing in the field of biomaterial-associated infections (BAI) is still in its infancy. The lack of standardization as well as the lack of workflows for image data analysis have proven to be major obstacles to progress in this multidisciplinary research area.

We aim to overcome these obstacles by standardizing the computational analysis, integration and handling of experimental and simulated data suitable for in vitro situations and transferable to in vivo and clinical situations. This will be achieved by (i) developing a minimal information standard for the relevant data and implementing it in a semantic knowledge base and (ii) implementing automated analysis workflows for the objective quantification of image data generated for the comparative evaluation of BAI.

One computer scientist for developing the minimal information standard and semantic knowledge base, and one computer scientist for developing workflows of automated image analysis will work as a tandem team with the PRs on this project.

Participating researchers (PRs): M. Sierka (FSU), M. T. Figge (FSU)

Doctoral researcher candidates apply for: “F: Digitized antimicrobial biomaterials semantic knowledge base (Sierka), Knowledge Base” or “F: Digitized antimicrobial biomaterials semantic knowledge base (Figge), Image Analysis” respectively.