Inspired by the exquisite morphological structures and outstanding properties of many naturally occurring biological materials, the field of protein-based materials evolved in the late 1980s (Figure 8.1). Early investigations generally focused on materials that were abundant in nature, had interesting mechanical properties, and were based on short repeating peptide sequences, such as ^-sheets (Krejchi et al. 1994; McGrath et al. 1990), silkworm silk (Cappello et al. 1990), elastin (McPherson et al. 1992), and collagen (Goldberg et al. 1989) (see selected Case Studies in this chapter). As necessitated by the subject, these pioneering studies were quite interdisciplinary and combined experimental methods and characterization techniques from biochemistry, molecular biology, protein science, polymer science, and materials science.
Although these new protein-based materials were not specifically designed for medical applications, their potential use as engineered substrates to interface with biology was quickly recognized. One of the first nonstructural peptide motifs to
Specialty materials Medical implants Drug delivery
Represen tati ve Examples
Tissue engineering Gene delivery Regenerative medicine
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