Researchers Invent New Material that Can Capture and Release Biomolecules

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In the Lab eNewsletter, Pharmaceutical Technology's In the Lab eNewsletter, July 2022, Volume 17, Issue 7

A new polymer surface material has been invented by researchers in Sweden that uses electrical signals to both capture and release biomolecules.

According to a June 15, 2022 press release, a new polymer surface material has been invented by researchers at Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenburg, Sweden) that uses electrical signals to both capture and release biomolecules.

The new material may have an impact in the way that biomedicines are developed and could provide opportunities in the development of remote-controlled medication and electronic pills. The results of the research were published in a scientific journal, Angewandte Chemie.

“Our polymer surfaces offer a new way of separating proteins by using electrical signals to control how they are bound to and released from a surface, while not affecting the structure of the protein,” said Gustav Ferrand-Drake del Castillo, doctor in Chemistry, Chalmers, CEO of Nyctea Technologies, and lead author of the study, in the press release.

The initial research behind the material was performed by Ferrand-Drake del Castillo while studying under the stewardship of Chalmers professor Andreas Dahlin within the university’s Division of Applied Surface Chemistry. The research project involved polymer surfaces that can change their state when the pH of the surrounding solution is adjusted—so, changing between neutral and charged.

“Shortly afterwards we discovered that we could use the electrical signals to control the binding and release of proteins and biomolecules, and that the electrode material works in biological solutions such as serum and centrifuged blood. We believe and hope that our discoveries may be of great benefit in the development of new medicines,” explained Dahlin, in the press release.


Additionally, the material was found to also work within biological fluids with the ability to counteract changes in pH values. Through this specific property of the polymer surface material, it may be possible for the researchers to create a new technique for implants and electronic pills, whereby the medicine is released within the body through electronic activation.

“You can imagine a doctor, or a computer program, measuring the need for a new dose of medicine in a patient, and a remote-controlled signal activating the release of the drug from the implant located in the very tissue or organ where it’s needed,” added Ferrand-Drake del Castillo. “Being able to control the release and uptake of proteins in the body with minimal surgical interventions and without needle injections is, we believe, a unique and useful property. The development of electronic implants is only one of several conceivable applications that are many years into the future. Research that helps us to link electronics with biology at a molecular level is an important piece of the puzzle in such a direction.”

Source: Chalmers