Biomedical Engineering team publishes research on metal-organic biohybrids

Louisiana Tech University Biomedical Engineering and Molecular Science and Nanotechnology professors, students and alumni have published a paper on the discovery of metals-based organic biohybrids and their use in drug delivery. The article, “Self-Assembled Metal–Organic Biohybrids (MOBs) Using Copper and Silver for Cell Studies,” published in Nanomaterials, has been accessed more than 700 times and downloaded more than 300 times in the two months since publication.

Dr. Mark DeCoster (professor of biomedical engineering and associate director of the Louisiana Tech Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Sciences), Dr. Teresa Murray (associate professor of biomedical engineering), Neha Karekar (alumnae of the master’s degree program in molecular science and nanotechnology), Anik Karan (doctoral student in biomedical engineering), Elnaz Khezerlou (doctoral student in biomedical engineering) and Neela Prajapati (doctoral student in biomedical engineering) are working with self-assembled metal-organic biohybrids (MOBs) for the potential use of delivering drugs in the human body.  Dr. Chelsea Pernici, who graduated with a Ph.D. and a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Louisiana Tech, was also key to the work described. 

The MOBs outlined in the paper consist of copper, silver and an amino acid, and the elements combine at body temperature. The team evaluated that once synthesized, the MOBs are stable and can remain combined for years in storage. However, once they are reintroduced to cells, the MOBs are biodegradable.

DeCoster says that he believes the work is getting attention because of the multiple levels of innovation in the research.

“I think this work is garnering so much excitement for a few reasons,” DeCoster said. “First, we have been fortunate to discover a new acronym or name for our family of materials and the process, which we call ‘MOBs.’ Second, our nanomaterials are completely biodegradable, which is not always the case. The biodegradable nature of the MOBs means that the materials can be recycled and can be part of the delivery process, rather than just hanging around and potentially causing problems. Finally, there is great interest in the metals portion, because metals have so many potential uses, even outside of biology, including energy processes, catalysis and construction materials. I see the MOBs as a great marriage between the biological world and the world of natural metals that could give us insight into building new, useful structures.”

“Some of the major concerns related to the synthesizing of novel biomaterials are the size, biocompatibility and biodegradability of the materials,” Karan added. “These self-assembled metal-organic biohybrids (MOBs) mentioned in our research (CuHARS and AgCysNPs) are in nano to micron ranges giving them the advantage for their usage in biomedical applications like in the field of anti-cancer studies along with being completely biodegradable and biocompatible in nature as we have shown in our research.”

“Dr. DeCoster’s Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory is at the center of modern cutting-edge research, and, through his lab, I’ve gotten to be involved in many ground-breaking research ideas. Dr. DeCoster being a science enthusiast is the backbone to the research group, which he has led for years, and I consider myself lucky being a part of his team.”

This research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation grant number 1547693.

Nanomaterials is an international peer-reviewed open access journal published each month. The journal publishes reviews, research, and notes relevant to fields of study that involve the science and application of nanomaterials. You can read the paper on the journal website.