My research project
Ultra-thin carbon nanotube networks - a platform for cardiac tissue engineering, electrical stimulation, and drug discovery
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one global cause of death, accounting for approximately 31% of all deaths annually. Despite CVD’s continued burden on healthcare services, between 1990 and 2012 there was a general decline in the amount of research into CVDs. While research into CVDs is starting to increase again, basic research – interrogating the mechanisms behind CVDs – has shown the least growth. Part of the reason for this turbulent trend in research efforts is that cardiac cell types are notoriously challenging to culture ex vivo. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), in combination with tissue engineering techniques, are uniquely suited to providing new reliable and dynamic experimental platforms for CVD research due to their versatility in biomaterial formulations, structural similarity to cardiac extracellular proteins and, most importantly, their electrical conductivity. Research thus far has created electrically conductive CNT scaffolds for cardiomyocytes (CMs), for use as a platform for cardiac disease modelling and pharmaceutical research. Here, a tissue culture scaffold consisting of thin, isotropic networks of CNTs was developed, that possesses optical transparency, resistivity in the MΩ range, nanoscale surface topography, and biocompatibility based on wettability. CMs grown on CNTs showed significantly enhanced contractile function, and expression of cardiac specific, contractile and adherence proteins. Further studies will look to investigate the mechanisms behind the enhanced contractile function of CMs on CNTs and the efficacy of paced electrical stimulation in eliciting arrhythmic disease phenotypes to provide proof-of-concept for this platform as a disease modelling system for pharmaceutical research and development into new therapies for CVDs.
Business, industry and community links
AMD works with leading scientists in world-class laboratory and development facilities. Furthermore, it has identified and is already working with commercial partners to explore the use of these technologies in real-world applications.
AMD’s work is based on an essential “platform technology” of liquid processing of 2D (nano) materials. This technology enables applications in key areas such as Advanced Sensors, Electronics & Devices, Composites, Photonics, Functional Coatings and nMark (anti-counterfeiting).
Carbon nanomaterials, materials science analytical techniques, cardiac tissue culture, biomaterials, cardiac tissue engineering, immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence, and live cell fluorescence imaging.