Head of Research Center, Professor Noah Lotan The Biomaterials Research Center is involved in activities of both academic and applied nature. Current research projects are briefly outlined below:
- Blood and Blood Plasma Substitutes – The development of blood and blood plasma substitutes required in medical emergencies, such as mass disasters (war, earthquake) and for individual needs (surgery, severe hemorrhaging). These materials can be stockpiled without refrigeration, and are not limited by the blood type of the recipient.
- Metabolic Assist with Blood-Contacting Bioreactors – A normally functioning organism disposes of endogenous and exogenous toxic materials by eliminating them as such (e.g. through the kidney), or by first transforming them – in the liver – into disposable metabolites. We are studying the supplementation of these vital functions of the liver by extracorporeal blood treatment systems, the key elements of which are bioreactors containing detoxifying enzymes.
- Self-Controlled Drug Delivery System – Currently available drug-releasing systems achieve a controlled rate of delivery by relying mainly on physical processes (diffusion, dissolution). An ongoing research project is studying the class of devices which rely on bioerosion (i.e., enzymic degradation) of drug-carrier composites. Such devices have the built-in capacity to be controlled and actuated by disease- specific biomarkers.
- Large-Scale Separation of Biomaterials – Biological and biomedical materials are produced using a variety of techniques, including fermentation, tissue culture and genetic engineering. In this research project, procedures for large-scale separation and purification of these materials from crude mixtures are being investigated from the engineering point of view and, in particular, those operations involving multi-stage column chromatography systems.
- Immobilized Biospecific Sorbents – Our research aims at developing biomaterials as insoluble elements, to be used for therapeutic, diagnostic and analytical purposes in biomedical reactors, as well as for the biospecific stationary phase in preparative-scale chromatographic systems.
- Molecular Bio-Electronics – Molecular bio-electronics devices (also called “Biochips”) are hybrid products obtained by integrating signal-generating bioactive materials and signal-receiving physico-chemical elements. Our current research concentrates on the development of molecular logic systems. Their activity relies on the concerted action of enzyme-based molecular switches and molecular logic gates, when connected via electroactive polymer molecules.
- Molecular Engineering – The functional properties of molecular materials and, particularly, of biomaterials, originate in their characteristic chemical structure. As such, it is expected that one can design novel materials which will perform predetermined tasks. Molecular engineering implements this approach and, to this aim, it relies on the safe grounds of chemical thermodynamics, solid state physics and molecular mechanics. This research project is focused on the computer assisted design of novel biomaterials. These are to be used as key elements in molecular bio-electronic devices and in physiologically controlled drug delivery systems.
- Tissue Engineering – Restoring damaged or missing tissue in patients with birth defects or accident injuries is, in many instances, a lifesaving procedure. However, the supply of donated human organs and tissue, required for transplants, is extremely limited. Tissue engineering is concerned with the laboratory production of viable materials required for such procedures. This high priority activity involves growing the required tissues from human cells, using biocompatible polymeric materials as supporting scaffolds. Our research program addresses the development of the appropriate scaffolding materials and of the technologies for producing the tissue to be grown.