The first symposium to unify two Québec strategic research groups, the CSACS (Centre for Self-Assembled Chemical Structures) and the CQMF (Centre québécois sur les matériaux fonctionnels), was held on May 3 and 4, 2016, at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), in Montréal. At this symposium, researchers from strategic CSACS and CQMF groups presented their perspectives on the following research areas:
- Self-assembled supermolecular structures
- Nanoscience and nanotechnologies
- Environmental and sustainable development
- Smart materials
This article is about the perspectives on the “Biointerfaces” research axis, presented by Jean-François Masson, Full Professor at the Department of Chemistry of the Université de Montréal, and Director of the SPR & Plasmonic Biosensors group.
Biointerfaces are mainly regarded as the boundary between materials and biological environments, biological fluids, cells, tissues, or other “living materials”.
The five main challenges identified in the field of biointerfaces are presented in the following Figure.
Various issues are associated with these challenges. Here are a few:
Transport of in vivo loads
- How to deliver a load or a drug to a highly targeted area of the body?
=> Develop nanocarriers and interfaces to exclusively single out the target area (a tumor for example).
=> These should be “stealth carriers” – having no interaction with any other element of the human body – biocompatible, and non-toxic.
Biosensors and diagnoses
- How to capture target molecules exclusively, without having to interact with other biological material?
=> Develop surfaces to specifically single out a biological target (pathogen, protein, marker, etc.).
=> Functionalize these surfaces (enzyme, antibody, protein, etc.).
=> Maintain the activity and reactivity of the surfaces.
Antibacterial and non-stick surfaces
- How to limit reactivity and the undesirable and rapid contamination of biointerfaces?
=> Protect materials against implant rejection and develop non-stick surfaces for bacteria.
3D cell cultures and tissue engineering
- How to create tissue for organ transplants and bone recolonization?
=> Develop interactions between the biological cells and the implant surfaces.
=> Understand the mechanisms of biomineralization and the behavior of surface cells.
Characterization and imaging techniques
- How to visualize the dynamics and function of cells in situ?
=> Conduct imaging of selected biomolecules.
=> Create markers to accurately determine the position of biological targets.
=> Develop techniques to record the response of cells to an environment.
Examples of Biointerface Projects
Every day, cancer affects more and more people. According to statistics, “every 3 minutes, every day of the year, a person is diagnosed with cancer”, and “every 6 or 7 minutes, every day of the year, a person dies of this disease” [1-2]. Because cancer diseases are one of today’s major problems, detecting, locating, and treating cancer cells are significant challenges affecting the entire population. Many projects in biointerfaces address these issues, and a great many research teams worldwide are working on the Fight Against Cancer.
Recently, researchers have developed magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles functionalized by using a new type of multifunctional ligand [3-4]. The ligand is used to ensure stabilization and dispersion together, in an aqueous medium, and the controlled delivery of drugs through the mechanism of hyperthermia. The iron oxide nanoparticles are attracting great interest as they are biocompatible, which allows them to be used in vivo. The magnetic properties of these nanoparticles make them useful in the detection of cancerous cells, with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, and as carriers of active ingredients during treatments. To treat cancer cells, an alternating magnetic field heats the iron oxides and helps fight the tumor by raising the local temperature and releasing specific molecules—rhodamine in this study .
Damien Texier is a CNRS researcher at the Clément Ader Institute. He is working on the micromechanics of heterogeneous materials, graded materials and thin materials.
Program : Mechanical Engineering
Research laboratories : LOPFA – Optimization of Aerospace Manufacturing Processes Laboratory