The biomaterials research efforts of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
affiliated faculty member Prashant Kumta, PhD (pictured), the Edward R. Weidlein Chair at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and professor in the Departments of BioEngineering, Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, were a focus of a recent American Ceramic Society interview. Dr. Kumta’s work is focused on developing novel low temperature metastable approaches under physiological conditions for the synthesis of nanostructured biocompatible ceramics, biocompatible bone cements, and hybrid natural polymer-nano-particulate ceramic systems useful in non-viral gene and protein delivery applications.
In Dr. Kumta’s lab, core fundamental research being conducted is to study the mineral-cell interface and the specific role of non-collagenous proteins on the mineralization of calcium phosphate phases found in mineralized hard tissue. These studies in bio-mineralization will lead to the development of new potential scaffolds for mineralized tissue engineering. At the same time, these studies will further improve the understanding of the salient essential protein-mineral and cell-protein-mineral interface important for enhancing the current knowledge of hard tissue formation in bone tissue engineering.
Another important aspect of his biomaterials research work involving a strong interaction with the University of Pittsburgh Dental School is to study the role of bio-ceramics and genetically engineered proteins for engineering and design of new biomaterial interfaces and morphologies used to investigate stem cell plasticity.
During the interview, Dr. Kumta discusses how his interest in bioglass and bioceramics coincided with the explosion of nanotechnology, opening up new opportunities for biocompatible materials that could be slowly absorbed by the body.
“Calcium phosphates area a part of your natural bone and as a result, are completely safe,” said Dr. Kumta. “What if you made nanoparticles of calcium phosphate? These nanoparticles, just by the virtue of the fact that they are nanomaterials, exhibit very high reactivity and they dissolve. It gave us this tremendous opportunity of being able to deliver biological molecules.”
Learn more about nanoceramics for bone regeneration and protein transport from Dr. Kumta’s Ceramic Tech Today interview here.
Illustration: American Ceramic Society.
Bio: Dr. Prashant Kumta