State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy

A special issue of Journal of Functional Biomaterials (ISSN 2079-4983).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (14 July 2023) | Viewed by 21622

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Institute of Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials, National Research Council of Italy, V. le J. F. Kennedy 54, Mostra d\'Oltremare, Pad. 20, 80125 Naples, Italy
Interests: biomaterial functionalization approaches; design and preparation of polymer and nanocomposite scaffolds for soft and hard tissue engineering applications using additive manufacturing techniques; and their physco-chemical; mechanical and morphological characterization
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last decade, the current demand for biomaterials has been significantly increasing across the globe, due to even more relevant challenges that are progressively emerging for health. Indeed, a wide biomaterials library has been suitably identified to obtain bio-instructive materials for different biomedical applications from medical devices, stem cell tissue, and engineering to targeted cell/drug delivery. Furthermore, main discoveries are also revolutionizing this field in terms of their design, from synthesis to manufacturing and their functioning mechanisms, including their functionalization and improvement of a wide range of physical, chemical, and biological properties.

In light of this, the current Special Issue aims at providing the latest advances in fundamental research on biomaterials recently produced by Italian scientists, in order to trace the current state of the art of biomedical applications in Italy. This Special Issue invites high-quality overviews and original technical papers on emerging research items in biomaterials in Italy, with a special focus on the synthesis of biopolymers with improved biological and biochemical functionalities to mimic the native cell microenvironment and the implementation of innovative processing techniques suitable for the fabrication of scaffolds and/or 3D models for investigating cell/material interactions. In this view, the use of a multidisciplinary approach is mandatory to satisfy the heterogeneous demands of this field; hence, contributions at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary studies such as material science, biophysics, biochemistry, biology, and biotechnology are strongly encouraged. We hope that the proposed Special Issue might offer a roadmap for all scientists and worldwide researchers about current progresses and biomaterials innovations in Italy to support future international collaborations in the biomedical area.

We are looking forward to receiving your work.

Dr. Vincenzo Guarino
Dr. Ugo D'Amora
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Functional Biomaterials is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biopolymers
  • bioactive materials
  • scaffolds
  • 3D models
  • biofabrication

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 2931 KiB  
Article
Fluorescent Carbon Dots from Food Industry By-Products for Cell Imaging
by Federica Mancini, Arianna Menichetti, Lorenzo Degli Esposti, Monica Montesi, Silvia Panseri, Giada Bassi, Marco Montalti, Laura Lazzarini, Alessio Adamiano and Michele Iafisco
J. Funct. Biomater. 2023, 14(2), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb14020090 - 7 Feb 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2125
Abstract
Herein, following a circular economy approach, we present the synthesis of luminescent carbon dots via the thermal treatment of chestnut and peanut shells, which are abundant carbon-rich food industry by-products. As-synthesized carbon dots have excellent water dispersibility thanks to their negative surface groups, [...] Read more.
Herein, following a circular economy approach, we present the synthesis of luminescent carbon dots via the thermal treatment of chestnut and peanut shells, which are abundant carbon-rich food industry by-products. As-synthesized carbon dots have excellent water dispersibility thanks to their negative surface groups, good luminescence, and photo-stability. The excitation–emission behaviour as well as the surface functionalization of these carbon dots can be tuned by changing the carbon source (chestnuts or peanuts) and the dispersing medium (water or ammonium hydroxide solution). Preliminary in vitro biological data proved that the samples are not cytotoxic to fibroblasts and can act as luminescent probes for cellular imaging. In addition, these carbon dots have a pH-dependent luminescence and may, therefore, serve as cellular pH sensors. This work paves the way towards the development of more sustainable carbon dot production for biomedical applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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10 pages, 1380 KiB  
Article
Magnetic Response of Nano/Microparticles into Elastomeric Electrospun Fibers
by Vincenzo Iannotti, Giovanni Ausanio, Anna M. Ferretti, Zaheer Ud Din Babar, Vincenzo Guarino, Luigi Ambrosio and Luciano Lanotte
J. Funct. Biomater. 2023, 14(2), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb14020078 - 29 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1651
Abstract
Combining magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) with high-voltage processes to produce ultra-thin magnetic nanofibers (MNFs) fosters the development of next-generation technologies. In this study, polycarbonate urethane nanofibers incorporating magnetic particles were produced via the electrospinning technique. Two distinct types of magnetic payload were used: (a) [...] Read more.
Combining magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) with high-voltage processes to produce ultra-thin magnetic nanofibers (MNFs) fosters the development of next-generation technologies. In this study, polycarbonate urethane nanofibers incorporating magnetic particles were produced via the electrospinning technique. Two distinct types of magnetic payload were used: (a) iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) with an average size and polydispersity index of 7.2 nm and 3.3%, respectively; (b) nickel particles (NiPs) exhibiting a bimodal size distribution with average sizes of 129 nanometers and 600 nanometers, respectively, and corresponding polydispersity indexes of 27.8% and 3.9%. Due to varying particle sizes, significant differences were observed in their aggregation and distribution within the nanofibers. Further, the magnetic response of the IONP and/or NiP-loaded fiber mats was consistent with their morphology and polydispersity index. In the case of IONPs, the remanence ratio (Mr/Ms) and the coercive field (Hc) were found to be zero, which agrees with their superparamagnetic behavior when the average size is smaller than 20–30 nm. However, the NiPs show Mr/Ms = 22% with a coercive field of 0.2kOe as expected for particles in a single or pseudo-single domain state interacting with each other via dipolar interaction. We conclude that magnetic properties can be modulated by controlling the average size and polydispersity index of the magnetic particles embedded in fiber mats to design magneto-active systems suitable for different applications (i.e., wound healing and drug delivery). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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14 pages, 2034 KiB  
Article
Laccase-Carrying Polylactic Acid Electrospun Fibers, Advantages and Limitations in Bio-Oxidation of Amines and Alcohols
by Valentina Giraldi, Maria Letizia Focarete and Daria Giacomini
J. Funct. Biomater. 2023, 14(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb14010025 - 31 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1916
Abstract
Laccases are oxidative enzymes that could be good candidates for the functionalization of biopolymers with several applications as biosensors for the determination of bioactive amine and alcohols, for bioremediation of industrial wastewater, and for greener catalysts in oxidation reactions in organic synthesis, especially [...] Read more.
Laccases are oxidative enzymes that could be good candidates for the functionalization of biopolymers with several applications as biosensors for the determination of bioactive amine and alcohols, for bioremediation of industrial wastewater, and for greener catalysts in oxidation reactions in organic synthesis, especially used for non-phenolic compounds in combination with redox mediators in the so-called Laccase Mediator System (LMS). In this work, we describe the immobilization of Laccase from Trametes versicolor (LTv) in poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) nanofibers and its application in LMS oxidation reactions. The PLLA-LTv catalysts were successfully produced by electrospinning of a water-in-oil emulsion with an optimized method. Different enzyme loadings (1.6, 3.2, and 5.1% w/w) were explored, and the obtained mats were thoroughly characterized. The actual amount of the enzyme in the fibers and the eventual enzyme leaching in different solvents were evaluated. Finally, the PLLA-LTv mats were successfully applied as such in the oxidation reaction of catechol, and in the LMS method with TEMPO as mediator in the oxidation of amines with the advantage of easier work-up procedures by the immobilized enzyme. However, the PLLA-LTv failed the oxidation of alcohols with respect to the free enzyme. A tentative explanation was provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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15 pages, 3118 KiB  
Article
Polydopamine-Coated Alginate Microgels: Process Optimization and In Vitro Validation
by Iriczalli Cruz-Maya, Simona Zuppolini, Mauro Zarrelli, Elisabetta Mazzotta, Anna Borriello, Cosimino Malitesta and Vincenzo Guarino
J. Funct. Biomater. 2023, 14(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb14010002 - 20 Dec 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2027
Abstract
In the last decade, alginate-based microgels have gained relevant interest as three-dimensional analogues of extracellular matrix, being able to support cell growth and functions. In this study, core-shell microgels were fabricated by self-polymerization of dopamine (DA) molecules under mild oxidation and in situ [...] Read more.
In the last decade, alginate-based microgels have gained relevant interest as three-dimensional analogues of extracellular matrix, being able to support cell growth and functions. In this study, core-shell microgels were fabricated by self-polymerization of dopamine (DA) molecules under mild oxidation and in situ precipitation of polydopamine (PDA) onto alginate microbeads, processed by electro fluid dynamic atomization. Morphological (optical, SEM) and chemical analyses (ATR-FTIR, XPS) confirmed the presence of PDA macromolecules, distributed onto the microgel surface. Nanoindentation tests also indicated that the PDA coating can influence the biomechanical properties of the microgel surfaces—i.e., σmaxALG = 0.45 mN vs. σmaxALG@PDA = 0.30 mN—thus improving the interface with hMSCs as confirmed by in vitro tests; in particular, protein adsorption and viability tests show a significant increase in adhesion and cell proliferation, strictly related to the presence of PDA. Hence, we concluded that PDA coating contributes to the formation of a friendly interface able to efficiently support cells’ activities. In this perspective, core-shell microgels may be suggested as a novel symmetric 3D model to study in vitro cell interactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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14 pages, 3171 KiB  
Article
Optimizing Covalent Immobilization of Glucose Oxidase and Laccase on PV15 Fluoropolymer-Based Bioelectrodes
by Nicolò Montegiove, Eleonora Calzoni, Dario Pelosi, Luca Gammaitoni, Linda Barelli, Carla Emiliani, Alessandro Di Michele and Alessio Cesaretti
J. Funct. Biomater. 2022, 13(4), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb13040270 - 1 Dec 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1563
Abstract
Enzymatic biofuel cells (EBCs) represent a promising technology for biosensors, biodevices, and sustainable green energy applications, thanks to enzymes’ high specificity and catalytic efficiency. Nevertheless, drawbacks such as limited output power and short lifetime have to be solved. Nowadays, research is addressed to [...] Read more.
Enzymatic biofuel cells (EBCs) represent a promising technology for biosensors, biodevices, and sustainable green energy applications, thanks to enzymes’ high specificity and catalytic efficiency. Nevertheless, drawbacks such as limited output power and short lifetime have to be solved. Nowadays, research is addressed to the use of 3D electrode structures, but the high cost and the industrialization difficulties of such electrodes represent a key issue. The purpose of the paper is thus to describe the use of a low-cost commercial conductive polymer (Sigracell® PV15) as support for the covalent immobilization of glucose oxidase and laccase, for bioanode and biocathode fabrication, respectively. Efficient immobilization protocols were determined for the immobilized enzymes in terms of employed linkers and enzyme concentrations, resulting in significant enzymatic activities for units of area. The analysis focuses specifically on the optimization of the challenging immobilization of laccase and assessing its stability over time. In particular, an optimum activity of 23 mU/cm2 was found by immobilizing 0.18 mg/cm2 of laccase, allowing better performances, as for voltage output and electrochemical stability, and a direct electron transfer mechanism to be revealed for the fabricated biocathode. This study thus poses the basis for the viable development of low-cost functional EBC devices for biomedical applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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13 pages, 2912 KiB  
Article
Dynamic Responsive Inguinal Scaffold Activates Myogenic Growth Factors Finalizing the Regeneration of the Herniated Groin
by Giuseppe Amato, Giorgio Romano, Vito Rodolico, Roberto Puleio, Pietro Giorgio Calò, Giuseppe Di Buono, Luca Cicero, Giorgio Romano, Thorsten Oliver Goetze and Antonino Agrusa
J. Funct. Biomater. 2022, 13(4), 253; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb13040253 - 18 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1530
Abstract
Background: Postoperative chronic pain caused by fixation and/or fibrotic incorporation of hernia meshes are the main concerns in inguinal herniorrhaphy. As inguinal hernia is a degenerative disease, logically the treatment should aim at stopping degeneration and activating regeneration. Unfortunately, in conventional prosthetic herniorrhaphy [...] Read more.
Background: Postoperative chronic pain caused by fixation and/or fibrotic incorporation of hernia meshes are the main concerns in inguinal herniorrhaphy. As inguinal hernia is a degenerative disease, logically the treatment should aim at stopping degeneration and activating regeneration. Unfortunately, in conventional prosthetic herniorrhaphy no relationship exists between pathogenesis and treatment. To overcome these incongruences, a 3D dynamic responsive multilamellar scaffold has been developed for fixation-free inguinal hernia repair. Made of polypropylene like conventional flat meshes, the dynamic behavior of the scaffold allows for the regeneration of all typical inguinal components: connective tissue, vessels, nerves, and myocytes. This investigation aims to demonstrate that, moving in tune with the groin, the 3D scaffold attracts myogenic growth factors activating the development of mature myocytes and, thus, re-establishing the herniated inguinal barrier. Methods: Biopsy samples excised from the 3D scaffold at different postoperative stages were stained with H&E and Azan–Mallory; immunohistochemistry for NGF and NGFR p75 was performed to verify the degree of involvement of muscular growth factors in the neomyogenesis. Results: Histological evidence of progressive muscle development and immunohistochemical proof of NFG and NFGRp75 contribution in neomyogenesis within the 3D scaffold was documented and statistically validated. Conclusion: The investigation appears to confirm that a 3D polypropylene scaffold designed to confer dynamic responsivity, unlike the fibrotic scar plate of static meshes, attracts myogenic growth factors turning the biological response into tissue regeneration. Newly developed muscles allow the scaffold to restore the integrity of the inguinal barrier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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17 pages, 2091 KiB  
Article
Development of an Innovative Soft Piezoresistive Biomaterial Based on the Interconnection of Elastomeric PDMS Networks and Electrically-Conductive PEDOT:PSS Sponges
by Maria Antonia Cassa, Martina Maselli, Alice Zoso, Valeria Chiono, Letizia Fracchia, Chiara Ceresa, Gianluca Ciardelli, Matteo Cianchetti and Irene Carmagnola
J. Funct. Biomater. 2022, 13(3), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb13030135 - 29 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2426
Abstract
A deeply interconnected flexible transducer of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) was obtained as a material for the application of soft robotics. Firstly, transducers were developed by crosslinking PEDOT:PSS with 3-glycidyloxypropryl-trimethoxysilane (GPTMS) (1, 2 and 3% v/v) and using freeze-drying [...] Read more.
A deeply interconnected flexible transducer of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene):polystyrenesulfonate (PEDOT:PSS) was obtained as a material for the application of soft robotics. Firstly, transducers were developed by crosslinking PEDOT:PSS with 3-glycidyloxypropryl-trimethoxysilane (GPTMS) (1, 2 and 3% v/v) and using freeze-drying to obtain porous sponges. The PEDOT:PSS sponges were morphologically characterized, showing porosities mainly between 200 and 600 µm2; such surface area dimensions tend to decrease with increasing degrees of crosslinking. A stability test confirmed a good endurance for up to 28 days for the higher concentrations of the crosslinker tested. Consecutively, the sponges were electromechanically characterized, showing a repeatable and linear resistance variation by the pressure triggers within the limits of their working range (RR0  max = 80% for 1–2% v/v of GPTMS). The sponges containing 1% v/v of GPTMS were intertwined with a silicon elastomer to increase their elasticity and water stability. The flexible transducer obtained with this method exhibited moderately lower sensibility and repeatability than the PEDOT:PSS sponges, but the piezoresistive response remained stable under mechanical compression. Furthermore, the transducer displayed a linear behavior when stressed within the limits of its working range. Therefore, it is still valid for pressure sensing and contact detection applications. Lastly, the flexible transducer was submitted to preliminary biological tests that indicate a potential for safe, in vivo sensing applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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Review

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16 pages, 2467 KiB  
Review
Wool Keratin Nanofibers for Bioinspired and Sustainable Use in Biomedical Field
by Diego Omar Sanchez Ramirez, Claudia Vineis, Iriczalli Cruz-Maya, Cinzia Tonetti, Vincenzo Guarino and Alessio Varesano
J. Funct. Biomater. 2023, 14(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb14010005 - 21 Dec 2022
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2882
Abstract
Keratin is a biocompatible and biodegradable protein as the main component of wool and animal hair fibers. Keratin-based materials support fibroblasts and osteoblasts growth. Keratin has been extracted by sulphitolysis, a green method (no harmful chemicals) with a yield of 38–45%. Keratin has [...] Read more.
Keratin is a biocompatible and biodegradable protein as the main component of wool and animal hair fibers. Keratin-based materials support fibroblasts and osteoblasts growth. Keratin has been extracted by sulphitolysis, a green method (no harmful chemicals) with a yield of 38–45%. Keratin has been processed into nanofibers from its solutions by electrospinning. Electrospinning is a versatile and easy-to-use technique to generate nanofibers. It is an eco-friendly and economical method for the production of randomly and uniaxially oriented polymeric nanofibers. Thanks to their high specific surface area, nanofibers have great potential in the biomedical field. Keratin nanofibers have received significant attention in biomedical applications, such as tissue engineering and cell growth scaffolds, for their biocompatibility and bio-functionality. Accordingly, we propose an extensive overview of recent studies focused on the optimization of keratinbased nanofibers, emphasizing their peculiar functions for cell interactions and the role of additive phases in blends or composite systems to particularize them as a function of specific applications (i.e., antibacterial). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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29 pages, 2185 KiB  
Review
Three-Dimensional Bioprinting for Cartilage Tissue Engineering: Insights into Naturally-Derived Bioinks from Land and Marine Sources
by Marta Anna Szychlinska, Fabio Bucchieri, Alberto Fucarino, Alfredo Ronca and Ugo D’Amora
J. Funct. Biomater. 2022, 13(3), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/jfb13030118 - 12 Aug 2022
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 4243
Abstract
In regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, the possibility to: (I) customize the shape and size of scaffolds, (II) develop highly mimicked tissues with a precise digital control, (III) manufacture complex structures and (IV) reduce the wastes related to the production process, are the [...] Read more.
In regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, the possibility to: (I) customize the shape and size of scaffolds, (II) develop highly mimicked tissues with a precise digital control, (III) manufacture complex structures and (IV) reduce the wastes related to the production process, are the main advantages of additive manufacturing technologies such as three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting. Specifically, this technique, which uses suitable hydrogel-based bioinks, enriched with cells and/or growth factors, has received significant consideration, especially in cartilage tissue engineering (CTE). In this field of interest, it may allow mimicking the complex native zonal hyaline cartilage organization by further enhancing its biological cues. However, there are still some limitations that need to be overcome before 3D bioprinting may be globally used for scaffolds’ development and their clinical translation. One of them is represented by the poor availability of appropriate, biocompatible and eco-friendly biomaterials, which should present a series of specific requirements to be used and transformed into a proper bioink for CTE. In this scenario, considering that, nowadays, the environmental decline is of the highest concerns worldwide, exploring naturally-derived hydrogels has attracted outstanding attention throughout the scientific community. For this reason, a comprehensive review of the naturally-derived hydrogels, commonly employed as bioinks in CTE, was carried out. In particular, the current state of art regarding eco-friendly and natural bioinks’ development for CTE was explored. Overall, this paper gives an overview of 3D bioprinting for CTE to guide future research towards the development of more reliable, customized, eco-friendly and innovative strategies for this field of interest. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue State-of-the-Art Functional Biomaterials in Italy)
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