This proposal engineers a novel 3-D liver tissue model. The first objective is the design and characterization of a new class of chemo-biologically synthesized copolymers that can be used to induce formation of 3-D in vitro liver tissue models. The second objective is to take the elastin-like polypeptides and charged polyelectrolytes (ELP-PE) copolymers with the best charge/adhesion/morphological properties and investigate 3-D hepatocyte spheroid formation with a detailed kinetic and biochemical analysis of liver specific function. In addition to creating new materials, the work will study the fundamental relationships between ELP-PE properties and biological function of liver cells and provide insight for future liver engineering and drug testing liver systems.
The applicant will actively recruit minority students into his laboratory and include graduate, DMD, and undergraduates as well as high school students. There is an extensive plan for the involvement of minority students directly in research by collaborating with a historically black college and by visiting the rural areas and schools of a disadvantaged state.