Protein-based composite biomaterials have been actively pursued as they can encompass a range of physical properties to accommodate a broader spectrum of functional requirements, such as elasticity to support diverse tissues. By optimizing molecular interfaces between structural proteins, useful composite materials can be fabricated as films, gels, particles, and fibers, as well as for electrical and optical devices. Such systems provide analogies to more traditional synthetic polymers yet with expanded utility due to the material’s tunability, mechanical properties, degradability, biocompatibility, and functionalization, such as for drug delivery, biosensors, and tissue regeneration.
Natural structural proteins display critical structural and bioactive properties that have evolved in nature for millions of years. However, depending on the specific protein, there may be useful functions, such as mechanical toughness, while other critical features may be more limiting, such as cell compatibility or a broader range of mechanical properties.
Tags: structural proteins, elastin proteins, resilin proteins, collagens, silk proteins, fibroin, sericin proteins, keratin, beta sheet crystals
Source: Materialstoday, Volume 15, Issue 5, May 2012, Pages 208–215, 2012-05-29.