Biomaterials for control of biological function
The microenvironment of a cell provides numerous mechanical and biological cues that control cell fate and function. Especially the mechanical properties of the environment (stiffness, stress relaxation, cellular attachment points) trigger important signaling pathways that govern cell growth and differentiation. In order to analyze how cells respond to their environment and in order to control the differentiation of stem cells in tissue engineering it is thus important to have materials and surfaces available that emulate the environment of a cell. As the environment of a cell is rather dynamic than static, the availability of materials and surfaces with dynamically addressable properties is of high importance. In our research we apply small molecule-responsive microbial genetic control elements to synthesize polymer-based surfaces and materials that support cell growth and that allow the time- and dose-controlled inducible release of different cytokines to control activation of stem cells.