Student: Kevin (Dongmin) Kim (HONORABLE MENTION)

Project: Integrating MMP - Cleavable Peptides for Cell - Mediated Degradation of Polymer Scaffolds

Institution: Lehigh University

Major: Bioengineering

Advisor: Lesley Chow


Biodegradable polymer-based scaffolds are essential in tissue engineering to provide mechanical support to cells and degrade as new tissue forms. However, these polymers typically degrade at a slower rate than tissue formation. To address this challenge, our goal was to integrate enzyme-cleavable peptide sequences within the polymer backbone to accelerate degradation. Our lab recently demonstrated that peptides can be covalently linked to a biodegradable polymer poly(caprolactone) (PCL) to generate peptide-PCL conjugates.1 This platform was used to synthesize peptide-PCL conjugates bearing peptide sequences that can be cleaved by natural enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The amino acid sequence CVPMSMRGGC was synthesized with two cysteines (Cs) on either end. The carboxylate group on PCL was reacted with amide-PEG-maleimide to produce PCL-maleimide. The di-cysteine peptide was reacted with the PCL-maleimide via Michael addition to create a PCL-peptide-PCL conjugate. Mass spectroscopy and NMR confirmed each synthesis step was successfully completed. This work introduces a new strategy to fabricate scaffolds that degrade through cell-mediated processes. It further expands upon the importance of MMP-cleavable peptides when forming scaffolds after conjugation with polymers.

References: [1] Camacho P. et al. Biomater Sci. 2019

About Kevin (Dongmin) Kim

Kevin (Dongmin) Kim, is a bioengineering senior specializing in Biopharmaceutical Engineering with an expected graduation in 2020. He joined the Chow Lab as an undergraduate researcher in Fall 2019 and has continued for the 2020 spring semester. Kevin’s curiosity in biomaterials has led to joining the Chow Lab in pursuit of understanding more about how biomaterials are made and formed into 3D scaffolds. After graduating, he plans to use his B.S. in Bioengineering to pursuit a career within the field.