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Creators/Authors contains: "Gough, Christopher R."

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  1. null (Ed.)
    Micro-/nanofibers have shown high promise as drug delivery vehicles due to their high porosity and surface-area-to-volume ratio. The current study utilizes air-spraying, a novel fiber fabrication technique, to create silk micro-/nanofibers without the need for a high voltage power source. Air-spraying was used to create silk fibrous mats embedded with several model drugs with high efficiency. In order to compare the effect of biomaterial geometry on the release of the model drugs, silk films were also created and characterized. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscope (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and a drug release study were performed on both fiber and film samples to study how the model drugs interact with the protein structure. FTIR analysis showed that while drugs could interact with the protein structure of porous silk fibers, they could not interact with the flat geometry of silk films. As a result, fibers could protect select model drugs from thermal degradation and slow their release from the fiber network with more control than the silk films. A trend was also revealed where hydrophobic drugs were better protected and had a slower release than hydrophilic drugs. The results suggest that the physical and chemical properties of drugs and protein-based biomaterials are important for creating drug delivery vehicles with tailored release profiles and that fibers provide better tunability than films do. 
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  2. The novel use of ionic liquid as a solvent for biodegradable and natural organic biomaterials has increasingly sparked interest in the biomedical field. As compared to more volatile traditional solvents that rapidly degrade the protein molecular weight, the capability of polysaccharides and proteins to dissolve seamlessly in ionic liquid and form fine and tunable biomaterials after regeneration is the key interest of this study. Here, a blended system consisting of Bombyx Mori silk fibroin protein and a cellulose derivative, cellulose acetate (CA), in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (EMIMAc) was regenerated and underwent characterization to understand the structure and physical properties of the films. The change in the morphology of the biocomposites (by scanning electron microscope, SEM) and their secondary structure analysis (by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, FTIR) showed that the samples underwent a wavering conformational change on a microscopic level, resulting in strong interactions and changes in their crystalline structures such as the CA crystalline and silk beta-pleated sheets once the different ratios were applied. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) results demonstrated that strong molecular interactions were generated between CA and silk chains, providing the blended films lower glass transitions than those of the pure silk or cellulose acetate. All films that were blended had higher thermal stability than the pure cellulose acetate sample but presented gradual changes amongst the changing of ratios, as demonstrated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). This study provides the basis for the comprehension of the protein-polysaccharide composites for various biomedical applications. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Biopolymer composites based on silk fibroin have shown widespread potential due to their brilliant applications in tissue engineering, medicine and bioelectronics. In our present work, biocomposite nanofilms with different special topologies were obtained through blending silk fibroin with crystallizable poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) at various mixture rates using a stirring-reflux condensation blending method. The microstructure, phase components, and miscibility of the blended films were studied through thermal analysis in combination with Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman analysis. X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope were also used for advanced structural analysis. Furthermore, their conformation transition, interaction mechanism, and thermal stability were also discussed. The results showed that the hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions existed between silk fibroin (SF) and PLLA polymer chains in the blended films. The secondary structures of silk fibroin and phase components of PLLA in composites vary at different ratios of silk to PLLA. The β-sheet content increased with the increase of the silk fibroin content, while the glass transition temperature was raised mainly due to the rigid amorphous phase presence in the blended system. This results in an increase in thermal stability in blended films compared to the pure silk fibroin films. This study provided detailed insights into the influence of synthetic polymer phases (crystalline, rigid amorphous, and mobile amorphous) on protein secondary structures through blending, which has direct applications on the design and fabrication of novel protein–synthetic polymer composites for the biomedical and green chemistry fields. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Diabetic patients are especially susceptible to chronic wounds of the skin, which can lead to serious complications. Sodium citrate is one potential therapeutic molecule for the topical treatment of diabetic ulcers, but its viability requires the assistance of a biomaterial matrix. In this study, nanofibers and thin films fabricated from natural corn zein protein are explored as a drug delivery vehicle for the topical drug delivery of sodium citrate. Corn zein is cheap and abundant in nature, and easily extracted with high purity, while nanofibers are frequently cited as ideal drug carriers due to their high surface area and high porosity. To further reduce costs, the 1-D nanofibers in this study were fabricated through an air jet-spinning method rather than the conventional electrospinning method. Thin films were also created as a comparative 2-D material. Corn zein composite nanofibers and thin films with different concentration of sodium citrate (1–30%) were analyzed through FTIR, DSC, TGA, and SEM. Results reveal that nanofibers are a much more effective vehicle than films, with the ability to interact with sodium citrate. Thermal analysis results show a stable material with low degradation, while FTIR reveals strong control over the protein secondary structures and hold of citrate. These tunable properties and morphologies allow the fibers to provide a sustained release of citrate and then revert to their structure prior to citrate loading. A statistical analysis via t-test confirmed a significant difference between fiber and film drug release. A biocompatibility study also confirms that cells are much more tolerant of the porous nanofiber structure than the nonporous protein films, and lower percentages of sodium citrate (1–5%) were outperformed to higher percentages (15–30%). This study demonstrated that protein-based nanofiber materials have high potential as vehicles for the delivery of topical diabetic drugs. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
    Natural biomacromolecules such as structural proteins and polysaccharides are composed of the basic building blocks of life: amino acids and carbohydrates. Understanding their molecular structure, self-assembly and interaction in solvents such as ionic liquids (ILs) is critical for unleashing a flora of new materials, revolutionizing the way we fabricate multi-structural and multi-functional systems with tunable physicochemical properties. Ionic liquids are superior to organic solvents because they do not produce unwanted by-products and are considered green substitutes because of their reusability. In addition, they will significantly improve the miscibility of biopolymers with other materials while maintaining the mechanical properties of the biopolymer in the final product. Understanding and controlling the physicochemical properties of biopolymers in ionic liquids matrices will be crucial for progress leading to the ability to fabricate robust multi-level structural 1D fiber materials. It will also help to predict the relationship between fiber conformation and protein secondary structures or carbohydrate crystallinity, thus creating potential applications for cell growth signaling, ionic conductivity, liquid diffusion and thermal conductivity, and several applications in biomedicine and environmental science. This will also enable the regeneration of biopolymer composite fiber materials with useful functionalities and customizable options critical for additive manufacturing. The specific capabilities of these fiber materials have been shown to vary based on their fabrication methods including electrospinning and post-treatments. This review serves to provide basic knowledge of these commonly utilized protein and polysaccharide biopolymers and their fiber fabrication methods from various ionic liquids, as well as the effect of post-treatments on these fiber materials and their applications in biomedical and pharmaceutical research, wound healing, environmental filters and sustainable and green chemistry research. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Electrospinning has gained constant enthusiasm and wide interest as a novel sustainable material processing technique due to its ease of operation and wide adaptability for fabricating eco-friendly fibers on a nanoscale. In addition, the device working parameters, spinning solution properties, and the environmental factors can have a significant effect on the fibers’ morphology during electrospinning. This review summarizes the newly developed principles and influence factors for electrospinning technology in the past five years, including these factors’ interactions with the electrospinning mechanism as well as its most recent applications of electrospun natural or sustainable composite materials in biology, environmental protection, energy, and food packaging materials. 
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