This project aims to develop a new class of biocompatible nanocomposite using montmorillonite nano- clay with our proprietary polymer - an arborescent form of poly(isobutylene-b-(p-methylstyrene-co- isobutylene)) block copolymer (arbIB-MS), as an alternative to silicone rubber in a breast implant model. This model was selected because of the wide-spread breast cancer among American women, with one in eight women likely to develop invasive breast cancer. The existing design and material choice of silicone rubber for breast implants are associated with health complications, such as gel bleed and capsular contracture, to require patients to undergo re-operations for correction or implant removal. This situation calls for new materials. Our preliminary results show that the carbon nanocomposite of arbIB-MS mechanical performance and biocompatibility exceeds that of silicone rubber. Blending nano-clay into this polymer can further enhance the overall material performance and retain optical transparency/translucency. In this two-year project, specific aims are set to synthesize arbIB-MS at a lab-batch scale, prepare arbIB-MS-clay nanocomposites, evaluate important properties, such as thermal, physical and mechanical properties, and establish the in vitro biocompatibility of these materials (in collaboration with SUMMA Health System). The research tasks of the project have been designed to train and engage a team of a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, an undergraduate student, a local high school teacher with a high school student in biomedical and material science research, under the supervision of Dr. Puskas and our collaborators at SUMMA. The undergraduate students and the high school teacher are involved as an outreach initiative to encourage an early immersion of talented youths in scientific study, and bring """"""""research into our classroom"""""""" at the local high school level to instill a positive perspective of science, technology and engineering in the next generations of potential graduate students. The project will be tied in with existing and successful outreach programs such as Polymer in a Backpack, Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, designed for middle school students. The post- doctoral fellow and graduate student will be challenged to develop and conduct research related to biomedicine. Through informal discussion, regular group meetings, regional or national scientific meetings of the Society for Biomaterials, and journal publications, the team members trained in traditional polymer and material science will be given opportunities to present research findings to the biomedical community. If funded, the proposed project would be the first NIH-funded research in the Department of Polymer Science, the leading polymer program in the nation and widely recognized globally.

Public Health Relevance

This AREA project is to develop novel translucent elastomeric clay nanocomposites and test their biocompatibility in vitro. The College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron is the largest polymer research program in the country, offering unique expertise in biomaterial development. This AREA grant would be the first NIH grant in the Department of Polymer Science, exposing teachers and students to health-related research.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Nanotechnology Study Section (NANO)
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Rasooly, Avraham
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University of Akron
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Puskas, Judit E; Luebbers, Matthew T (2012) Breast implants: the good, the bad and the ugly. Can nanotechnology improve implants? Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 4:153-68