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    Gelation Kinetics and Mechanical Properties of Thiol-Tetrazole Methylsulfone Hydrogels Designed for Cell Encapsulation
    (Weinheim : Wiley-VCH, 2022) de Miguel‐Jiménez, Adrián; Ebeling, Bastian; Paez, Julieta I.; Fink‐Straube, Claudia; Pearson, Samuel; del Campo, Aránzazu
    Hydrogel precursors that crosslink within minutes are essential for the development of cell encapsulation matrices and their implementation in automated systems. Such timescales allow sufficient mixing of cells and hydrogel precursors under low shear forces and the achievement of homogeneous networks and cell distributions in the 3D cell culture. The previous work showed that the thiol-tetrazole methylsulfone (TzMS) reaction crosslinks star-poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels within minutes at around physiological pH and can be accelerated or slowed down with small pH changes. The resulting hydrogels are cytocompatible and stable in cell culture conditions. Here, the gelation kinetics and mechanical properties of PEG-based hydrogels formed by thiol-TzMS crosslinking as a function of buffer, crosslinker structure and degree of TzMS functionality are reported. Crosslinkers of different architecture, length and chemical nature (PEG versus peptide) are tested, and degree of TzMS functionality is modified by inclusion of RGD cell-adhesive ligand, all at concentration ranges typically used in cell culture. These studies corroborate that thiol/PEG-4TzMS hydrogels show gelation times and stiffnesses that are suitable for 3D cell encapsulation and tunable through changes in hydrogel composition. The results of this study guide formulation of encapsulating hydrogels for manual and automated 3D cell culture.
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    Revealing the Meissner Corpuscles in Human Glabrous Skin Using In Vivo Non-Invasive Imaging Techniques
    (Basel : Molecular Diversity Preservation International, 2023) Infante, Victor Hugo Pacagnelli; Bennewitz, Roland; Klein, Anna Lena; Meinke, Martina C.
    The presence of mechanoreceptors in glabrous skin allows humans to discriminate textures by touch. The amount and distribution of these receptors defines our tactile sensitivity and can be affected by diseases such as diabetes, HIV-related pathologies, and hereditary neuropathies. The quantification of mechanoreceptors as clinical markers by biopsy is an invasive method of diagnosis. We report the localization and quantification of Meissner corpuscles in glabrous skin using in vivo, non-invasive optical microscopy techniques. Our approach is supported by the discovery of epidermal protrusions which are co-localized with Meissner corpuscles. Index fingers, small fingers, and tenar palm regions of ten participants were imaged by optical coherence tomography (OCT) and laser scan microscopy (LSM) to determine the thickness of the stratum corneum and epidermis and to count the Meissner corpuscles. We discovered that regions containing Meissner corpuscles could be easily identified by LSM with an enhanced optical reflectance above the corpuscles, caused by a protrusion of the strongly reflecting epidermis into the stratum corneum with its weak reflectance. We suggest that this local morphology above Meissner corpuscles has a function in tactile perception.
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    Self-Healing Iron Oxide Polyelectrolyte Nanocomposites: Influence of Particle Agglomeration and Water on Mechanical Properties
    (Basel : MDPI, 2023) Oberhausen, Bastian; Plohl, Ajda; Niebuur, Bart-Jan; Diebels, Stefan; Jung, Anne; Kraus, Tobias; Kickelbick, Guido
    Self-healing nanocomposites can be generated by organic functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles and complementary functionalization of the polymer matrix, allowing reversible interactions between the two components. Here, we report on self-healing nanocomposites based on ionic interactions between anionic copolymers consisting of di(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate, sodium 4-(methacryloyloxy)butan-1-sulfonate, and cationically functionalized iron oxide nanoparticles. The materials exhibited hygroscopic behavior. At water contents < 6%, the shear modulus was reduced by up to 90%. The nanoparticle concentration was identified as a second factor strongly influencing the mechanical properties of the materials. Backscattered scanning electron microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering measurements showed the formation of agglomerates in the size range of 100 nm to a few µm in diameter, independent of concentration, resulting in the disordering of the semi-crystalline ionic polymer blocks. These effects resulted in an increase in the shear modulus of the composite from 3.7 MPa to 5.6 MPa, 6.3 Mpa, and 7.5 MPa for 2, 10, and 20 wt% particles, respectively. Temperature-induced self-healing was possible for all composites investigated. However, only 36% of the maximum stress could be recovered in systems with a low nanoparticle content, whereas the original properties were largely restored (>85%) at higher particle contents.
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    Electroactive nanoinjection platform for intracellular delivery and gene silencing
    (London : Biomed Central, 2023) Shokouhi, Ali-Reza; Chen, Yaping; Yoh, Hao Zhe; Murayama, Takahide; Suu, Koukou; Morikawa, Yasuhiro; Brenker, Jason; Alan, Tuncay; Voelcker, Nicolas H.; Elnathan, Roey
    Background: Nanoinjection—the process of intracellular delivery using vertically configured nanostructures—is a physical route that efficiently negotiates the plasma membrane, with minimal perturbation and toxicity to the cells. Nanoinjection, as a physical membrane-disruption-mediated approach, overcomes challenges associated with conventional carrier-mediated approaches such as safety issues (with viral carriers), genotoxicity, limited packaging capacity, low levels of endosomal escape, and poor versatility for cell and cargo types. Yet, despite the implementation of nanoinjection tools and their assisted analogues in diverse cellular manipulations, there are still substantial challenges in harnessing these platforms to gain access into cell interiors with much greater precision without damaging the cell’s intricate structure. Here, we propose a non-viral, low-voltage, and reusable electroactive nanoinjection (ENI) platform based on vertically configured conductive nanotubes (NTs) that allows for rapid influx of targeted biomolecular cargos into the intracellular environment, and for successful gene silencing. The localization of electric fields at the tight interface between conductive NTs and the cell membrane drastically lowers the voltage required for cargo delivery into the cells, from kilovolts (for bulk electroporation) to only ≤ 10 V; this enhances the fine control over membrane disruption and mitigates the problem of high cell mortality experienced by conventional electroporation. Results: Through both theoretical simulations and experiments, we demonstrate the capability of the ENI platform to locally perforate GPE-86 mouse fibroblast cells and efficiently inject a diverse range of membrane-impermeable biomolecules with efficacy of 62.5% (antibody), 55.5% (mRNA), and 51.8% (plasmid DNA), with minimal impact on cells’ viability post nanoscale-EP (> 90%). We also show gene silencing through the delivery of siRNA that targets TRIOBP, yielding gene knockdown efficiency of 41.3%. Conclusions: We anticipate that our non-viral and low-voltage ENI platform is set to offer a new safe path to intracellular delivery with broader selection of cargo and cell types, and will open opportunities for advanced ex vivo cell engineering and gene silencing. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
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    Flux Growth and Characterization of Bulk InVO4 Crystals
    (Basel : MDPI, 2023) Voloshyna, Olesia; Gorbunov, Mikhail V.; Mikhailova, Daria; Maljuk, Andrey; Seiro, Silvia; Büchner, Bernd
    The flux growth of InVO4 bulk single crystals has been explored for the first time. The reported eutectic composition at a ratio of V2O5:InVO4 = 1:1 could not be used as a self-flux since no sign of melting was observed up to 1100 °C. Crystals of InVO4 of typical size 0.5 × 1 × 7 mm3 were obtained using copper pyrovanadate (Cu2V2O7) as a flux, using Pt crucibles. X-ray powder diffraction confirmed the orthorhombic Cmcm structure. Rests of the flux material were observed on the sample surface, with occasional traces of Pt indicating some level of reaction with the crucible. X-ray absorption spectroscopy showed that oxidation states of indium and vanadium ions are +3 and +5, respectively. The size and high quality of the obtained InVO4 crystals makes them excellent candidates for further study of their physical properties.