Synthesizing a Heparin Mimic Material Derived from Cellulose Nanocrystals

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Virginia Tech


To prevent clotting during dialysis, heparin is used to line the tubing which blood flows through. Unfortunately, many side effects arise from taking heparin, especially when it is used for an extended period of time. As such, long-term exposure for individuals undergoing dialysis every day is unavoidable. To prevent the solubilized heparin from entering the bloodstream, a polymer-based natural material is being investigated. This materials properties include reduction of coagulation and elimination of the long-term effects of heparin such as heparin induced thrombocytopenia and osteoporosis.

Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) contain the same 1,4 linked pyranose backbone structure as heparin along with desirable mechanical properties, like high stiffness and anisotropic shape. By altering the functionalization on the surface of CNCs to closely mirror that of heparin, it should be possible to make a biomimetic material that counteracts blood clotting, while not introducing soluble small molecule anti-coagulants into the body. Through blood assays and platelet fixing analysis, we have been able to show that this change in functionalization does reduce coagulation. Surface chemistry of CNCs were modified from 'plain' CNCs (70 mmol SO3-/kg residual from hydrolysis) to 500 mmol COO-/kg (TEMPO oxidized) and 330 mmol SO3-/kg CNC (sulfonated CNCs). We will show that by utilizing CNCs reactive functional groups and incredible mechanical properties we are able to create a material that reduces clotting while maintaining the tubing's mechanical strength as well as eliminating heparin's side effects associated with it being a soluble anticoagulant.



Nanocrystalline cellulose, heparin mimic, anticoagulation, hemodialysis