Oxford Biomaterials Ltd.

Oxford, United Kingdom

Oxford Biomaterials Ltd.

Oxford, United Kingdom
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Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: FETOPEN-1-2014 | Award Amount: 3.74M | Year: 2016

Currently there is no truly sustainable pathway for the production of plastics, an industry which in the EU employs 1.45M people, has a turnover of 89B but consumes ~778GWh of energy per annum. This is an opportunity for industry with pressure increasing to develop low energy, high-quality, wet-processing techniques for consumer products. Here Nature may provide us with inspiration, as over hundreds of millions of years, it has evolved numerous strategies for efficient processing of its materials. One such solution has been recently hypothesised in natural silk spinning: FLIPT: FLow Induced Phase Transitions, a disruptive process which we believe could hold the key to a new low energy paradigm for polymer processing. Our research is promising, as it has already shown that silk is at least 1000 times more efficient at processing than a standard polymer (HDPE). To address these challenges our consortia will combine the expertise of world-leading groups in natural materials, polymer synthesis and material processing alongside practical input from 2 SME partners and larger European companies. Taking inspiration from the spider and silkworm, novel functionalised polymers (aquamelts) will be created that utilise FLIPT; enabling controlled solidification with minimal energy input. We firmly believe that there is huge potential in uncovering silks hidden functionality and applying it to enhance the processing of a range of polymeric materials. It is our goal to develop a platform technology to generate novel, bespoke, naturally derived, low embodied-energy materials, which would be competitive with current petroleum-based polymers in terms of performance and economics while well exceeding such materials in terms of sustainability.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Fellowship | Award Amount: 997.05K | Year: 2013

This fellowship will be used to assemble a new UK team of physical and life scientists with the aim of turning natural processes into engineering applications. Our goal is to discover new ways of sustainably processing naturally sourced materials which will in turn reduce the environmental footprint of oil-based polymers. The majority of natural materials are grown. Silks, by definition, are spun. My own work has shown that in many ways silk spinning has more in common with industrial polymer extrusion; however there is one key difference, environmental impact. Silk is a high performance, biodegradable biopolymer spun at room temperature, with the only waste product being water. We have also recently demonstrated this process occurs at an energy cost around a thousand times less than a typical polymer. Such a unique source of inspiration is now more valuable than ever, as global industry faces increasing pressure from consumers and governments to find new ways of producing high quality yet fully sustainable materials. The overall objective of this proposal is to develop the means to control the processing of biopolymers into structures with predictable properties. To achieve this, my team and I will use the state-of-the-art characterisation lab I have already assembled. This permits us to study our test materials before, during and after processing. First we will design a series of biomimetic spinning devices based on the shape and processing conditions of a natural silk gland. This device will be validated by spinning small amounts of native silk feedstocks with the aim of producing fibres indistinguishable from those spun naturally. Secondly we will use artificially produced silk feedstocks, which can be obtained in large quantities, to spin fibres with predictable properties and in amounts suitable for investigating new industrial applications. Thirdly using our knowledge of how best to process a silk feedstock, we will then investigate non-fibre based processing of these materials, namely blade coating to make films and 3D printing to make complex structures. Finally the team will subject a range of artificial biopolymer feedstocks to our processing techniques and assess their potential in terms of sustainability and performance. The outputs from this project will encompass technological achievements and scientific insights. Technologically, the development of a biomimetic spinning rig will be the first of its kind and should be valuable as well as high profile. We will discover if an artificial feedstock can be processed into a material with properties equal to, if not better than, its natural progenitor. Extension of our spinning platform into other processing technologies will answer a highly controversial question is silk a good material, or just a good fibre? Investigating other biological materials, which have uses from food to healthcare, will reveal if it is possible to spin a biopolymer optimised for growth. Industry will be engaged throughout the project to identify we can learn from a system with 400 million years of research and development. Together, my team and I will provide an unprecedented understanding of how to sustainably process naturally sourced materials and the tools to drive this science into the 21st century.


Ling S.,Fudan University | Qi Z.,Hefei University of Technology | Knight D.P.,Oxford Biomaterials Ltd. | Shao Z.,Fudan University | Chen X.,Fudan University
Biomacromolecules | Year: 2011

Synchrotron FTIR (S-FTIR) microspectroscopy was used to monitor the silk protein conformation in a range of single natural silk fibers (domestic and wild silkworm and spider dragline silk). With the selection of suitable aperture size, we obtained high-resolution S-FTIR spectra capable of semiquantitative analysis of protein secondary structures. For the first time, we have determined from S-FTIR the β-sheet content in a range of natural single silk fibers, 28 ± 4, 23 ± 2, and 17 ± 4% in Bombyx mori, Antheraea pernyi, and Nephila edulis silks, respectively. The trend of β-sheet content in different silk fibers from the current study accords quite well with published data determined by XRD, Raman, and 13C NMR. Our results indicate that the S-FTIR microspectroscopy method has considerable potential for the study of single natural silk fibers. © 2011 American Chemical Society.


Yan J.,Fudan University | Zhou G.,Fudan University | Knight D.P.,Oxford Biomaterials Ltd. | Shao Z.,Fudan University | Chen X.,Fudan University
Biomacromolecules | Year: 2010

Regenerated silk fibroin (RSF) fibers were obtained by extruding a concentrated aqueous silk fibroin solution into an ammonium sulfate coagulation bath. A custom-made simplified industrial-type wet-spinning device with continuous mechanical postdraw was used. The effect of dope concentration, coagulation bath, extrusion rate, and postdraw treatment on the morphology of RSF fiber was examined. The results showed that although RSF fiber could be formed with dope concentration between 13 and 19% (w/w), the ones spun from 15% RSF solution showed the most regular morphology being dense and homogeneous in cross-section with a smooth surface and a uniform cylindrical shape. Though it had little effect on morphology, postdraw treatment especially under steam, significantly improved the mechanical properties of the RSF fibers. © 2010 American Chemical Society.


Ling S.,Fudan University | Qi Z.,Hefei University of Technology | Knight D.P.,Oxford Biomaterials Ltd | Shao Z.,Fudan University | Chen X.,Fudan University
Polymer Chemistry | Year: 2013

As in other polymer blends, the phase behavior of silk fibroin (SF) blends with other polymers is thought to be important for their related properties. Here we used FTIR imaging to study the phase behavior of three silk protein-based polymer blends, silk fibroin/chitosan (SF/CS) blend, silk fibroin/sodium alginate (SF/SA) blend, and silk fibroin/polyvinyl alcohol (SF/PVA) blend. FTIR images of the films prepared from these polymer blends indicated that the SF/CS blend was compatible, the SF/SA blend was partially compatible, and the SF/PVA blend was incompatible. The results accord with the conclusions from the conventional analysis methods like SEM, DSC, and DTMA reported in the literature. Moreover, we show that FTIR images of the blends can provide additional useful information on the composition of the individual components, and the conformation of SF at defined locations with a spatial resolution of 4 μm. Therefore, we believe FTIR imaging is a useful technique to better understand both the chemical and physical properties of silk protein-based polymer blends, and other kinds of polymer blends. © 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: European | Award Amount: 159.89K | Year: 2016

Awaiting Public Project Summary


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Smart - Proof of Concept | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2013

The project will produce an optimised novel non-degradable silk-based graft for dialysis to demonstrate the graft’s suitability for haemodialysis applications and will deliver prototypes for a first implantation in-vivo. There are 2 million patients treated for End Stage Renal Disease worldwide, a number increasing by 6-7% each year. Those treated by dialysis require blood filtering 3 times a week to replace kidneys function. The most effective approach is to create an arteriovenous fistula connecting an artery directly to a nearby vein in the patient’s forearm. Where the veins are unsuitable, a synthetic graft is implanted to connect the artery to the vein. However, current synthetic grafts on the market are inefficient, as a consequence of their material composition. Most grafts require 2 post-operative interventions a year to remain functional and over 75% are replaced within 2 years. By comparison, over 70% of fistulas are functioning after 18 months. This project will deliver a novel graft prototype using natural, commercially available silk proteins formed into a bio-mimetic tubular scaffold and with properties tailored to the specific requirements of haemodialysis. The optimised prototype will be tested to demonstrate its superior mechanical and biological characteristics and prepared for in-vivo evaluations. The biomimetic and inherently biocompatible graft will offer the first real alternative to the gold standard fistula. As it will be better integrated and lasts longer than current products, multiple post-operative interventions will be eliminated, significantly improving quality of life and reducing overall dialysis costs to the NHS and other healthcare providers worldwide.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Smart - Proof of Concept | Award Amount: 77.96K | Year: 2015

This 12 months project aims at developing a new economically viable process to produce nonmulberry silk solutions and to offer scaffolds with increased tissue regenerative potential. Silk solutions extracted from the domesticated Bombyx mori can be assembled into a wide range of materials, from hydrogels, films to sponges and composites, all particularly suited to biomedical applications due to their protein composition. Several varieties of wildtype (or nonmulberry) silkworms have a range of mechanical properties closer to native tissues as well as cellular adhesion motives naturally occuring in their protein sequence, both significantly enhancing the potential to repair or replace damaged tissue. However the exploitation of their protein solutions has been limited so far, as extracting the proteins from their highly crosslinked fibres requires extensive and hazardous chemicals treatments, preventing future manufacture. Under this proof of concept project, OBM will develop a new, ecological process to produce non-mulberry silk solutions, with potential for upscale and commercialisation.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Feasibility Study | Award Amount: 23.31K | Year: 2015

Low-energy, high-quality wet processing of sustainable polymeric materials is a key societal and economic challenge facing today’s polymer industry. Our answer is to exploit a source of natural polymer feedstocks, silk, to provide a sustainable solution to the production of engineering plastics.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Innovation Voucher | Award Amount: 5.00K | Year: 2014

Oxford Biomaterials is a company developing novel medical implants made from silk protein materials. The company is seeking external expertise in computational modelling to reduce the need for iterative prototyping of its novel silk-based hemodialysis graft.

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