Break | AIChE


Organic bioelectronics has recently offered various healthcare technologies such as neural interfacing electrodes, biochemical sensors, and drug delivery devices, with exciting developments on the horizon. Applications in tissue regeneration, for example, allow for the electroactive nature of organic bioelectronic materials to affect cell adhesion, signaling, and fate. Such applications require increased biocompatibility and biofunctionalization, which are limited by the organic semiconductors currently in use. We demonstrate a novel derivative of an organic semiconductor poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) that can covalently link to biomaterials and augment otherwise non-conductive materials with enhanced electroactivity. This is accomplished by synthetically modifying PEDOT with N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) activated acid groups that target the amine-rich structure of many biomaterials. PEDOT-NHS was characterized demonstrating similar conductivity and electrochemical behavior to the parent polymer without the NHS-incorporated structural units, suggesting that functionalization can be achieved without significantly compromising the electroactivity of the material. PEDOT-NHS and functionalized biomaterials were assessed for biocompatibility, hemocompatibility, and potential for regenerative engineering. The results of this study demonstrate a novel conducting polymer that can augment biomaterials with enhanced electroactivity that may both improve regenerative outcomes and serve as a tool to investigate the mechanistic benefits associated with electrical stimulation of tissue. The outlined approach has potential beyond the functionalization of synthetic biomaterials, to natural decellularized tissue for applications in nerve regeneration and bone growth.