Surface grafting of electrospun fibres for the control of biointerfacial interactions

The development of electrospun nanofibres from biodegradable and biocompatible polymers has created exciting opportunities for biomedical applications. Meshes of fibres with high surface areas, porosities and appropriate stiffness have been produced through the electrospinning technique.

Despite their desirable structural and topographical properties, the nature of the fibre surface has inhibited their development. Hydrophobicity, undesirable non-specific protein adsorption and bacterial attachment and growth, coupled with a lack of surface functionality and a full understanding of the interactions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules have impeded the success of these systems.

Chemical and physical treatments have been applied to the fibres in order to modify or control their surface properties. Chemical modification using controlled living radical polymerization has successfully introduced advanced functionalities on the surface of some fibre systems. Atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) and reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) techniques are two of the most widely investigated techniques.

We explore the surface of electrospun nanofibres scaffolds via controlled living radical polymerization in order to create low fouling materials for cardiovascular applications. The surface modification of the fibres is expected to reduce the foreign body response improving biointerfacial interactions. In vitro and in vivo assays is undertaken to analyse cell and material interactions and corroborate the low fouling properties of the fibres.