We have recently demonstrated that low melting point organic salts, called ionic liquids, can be rationally designed to stabilize proteins against thermal denaturation by modulating solvent properties. By judicious choice of cation, anion, and functional groups, not only can the stabilization characteristics be tuned, but a range of physical properties, such as the pH, viscosity, and the extent of dissociation of the salt (i.e osmolality) can also be tailored to the application. We have also been able to modulate the cytotoxicity of ionic liquids by rational selection of anions. We propose to extend these exciting results to cellular applications, where many of the same features are desired in a cell stabilizing formulation. The determination and application of 'task-specific'molecular design rules will move preservation science beyond the standard trial and error approach with existing materials towards rationally designed cell protectants for specific tissue and storage requirements. Specifically we seek to:
Aim #1 : Determine the structural features and physical properties of ionic liquids that result in stabilizing associations and penetration of mammalian cell membranes.
Aim #2 : Determine the thermal-physical behavior and glass-forming characteristics of biocompatible ionic liquids in composition with water and sugar-based stabilizing molecules, such as trehalose.
Aim #3 : Establish the post preservation viability and shelf-life of cells stored in ionic liquid based preservation solutions using three different preservation methods: slow-cooling, rapid-cooling, and dehydration.

Public Health Relevance

Cell-based therapeutics (e.g. stem cells used to treat certain cancers) must be stored at cryogenic temperatures, which results in very high storage and transportation costs. This research seeks to reduce these costs by investigating new materials that can enable cell-based therapies to be stored at higher temperatures.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section (BMBI)
Program Officer
Edmonds, Charles G
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Engineering (All Types)
Schools of Engineering
United States
Zip Code
Weng, Lindong; Ziaei, Shima; Elliott, Gloria D (2016) Effects of Water on Structure and Dynamics of Trehalose Glasses at Low Water Contents and its Relationship to Preservation Outcomes. Sci Rep 6:28795
Weng, Lindong; Elliott, Gloria D (2015) Distinctly Different Glass Transition Behaviors of Trehalose Mixed with Na2HPO 4 or NaH 2PO 4: Evidence for its Molecular Origin. Pharm Res 32:2217-28
Elliott, Gloria D; Lee, Pei-Chih; Paramore, Elisha et al. (2015) Resilience of oocyte germinal vesicles to microwave-assisted drying in the domestic cat model. Biopreserv Biobank 13:164-71
Weng, Lindong; Elliott, Gloria D (2015) Local minimum in fragility for trehalose/glycerol mixtures: implications for biopharmaceutical stabilization. J Phys Chem B 119:6820-7
Weng, Lindong; Elliott, Gloria D (2014) Polymerization effect of electrolytes on hydrogen-bonding cryoprotectants: ion-dipole interactions between metal ions and glycerol. J Phys Chem B 118:14546-54
Weng, Lindong; Elliott, Gloria D (2014) Dynamic and thermodynamic characteristics associated with the glass transition of amorphous trehalose-water mixtures. Phys Chem Chem Phys 16:11555-65
Weng, Lindong; Elliott, Gloria D (2014) Determination of the relaxation characteristics of sugar glasses embedded in microfiber substrates. Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 44:422-9
Rengstl, Doris; Kraus, Birgit; Van Vorst, Matthew et al. (2014) Effect of choline carboxylate ionic liquids on biological membranes. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 123:575-81
Weng, Lindong; Vijayaraghavan, Ranganathan; Macfarlane, Douglas R et al. (2014) Application of the Kwei equation to model the Tg behavior of binary blends of sugars and salts. Cryobiology 68:155-8
Cellemme, Stephanie L; Van Vorst, Matthew; Paramore, Elisha et al. (2013) Advancing microwave technology for dehydration processing of biologics. Biopreserv Biobank 11:278-84

Showing the most recent 10 out of 12 publications