Macromolecules are compounds with high molecular mass which structure comprise the multiple repetition of units derived from molecules of low relative molecular mass. Examples of macromolecules are biopolymers (nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates) and synthetic polymers. The chemical and structural diversity of macromolecules offer multiple interactions for self-assembly with other molecules. Polysaccharides are produced in nature with remarkable chemical and structural diversity. Hyaluronan (HA) is a highly abundant anionic polysaccharide found throughout the mammalian connective tissues. HA has been recognized as an organizer of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in different tissues. For example, HA is a strategic player in cartilage ECM, functioning as the central filament of the cartilage proteoglycan aggregate (aggrecan).
The dynamic flexibility of HA, associated with its simplicity, make it a versatile macromolecular template to create supramolecular structures. We aim to combine biological inspiration with the tools of chemistry, physics and engineering to understand and develop self-assembling systems based on hyaluronan and synthetic peptides and investigate the possibilities of using these advanced biomaterials in regenerative medicine applications. We also aim to explore alternative macromolecules with novel functionalities (synthetic block copolymers, collaboration with Dr Becer) to develop custom-tailored peptide-polymer hybrid supramolecular biomaterials.