Manufacturing the future: Manufacture of Shaped MOF-Polymer Products for Healthcare Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Chemistry


This project will investigate and develop routes to the manufacture and post-processing of extruded polymer-based articles containing porous materials called metal organic frameworks (MOFs). The project will have widespread applicability to the development of many high value and transformative products. Focus will be placed on the manufacture of components for multifunctional medical devices (particularly catheters) that will enable enhanced well-being. The project seeks to establish the pertinent fundamental contributing factors and how these can be controlled, arriving at a set of guidelines for effective manufacture. It will also develop, design and build a prototype process that achieves, for the first time, necessary post-manufacture processing at scale. These dual components will permit the remarkable properties of MOFs to be harnessed to alleviate some of the most pressing challenges of modern society - healthcare associated infections, antimicrobial resistance and heart disease. As such, this project fits within the 21st Century Products Research Vision category.

MOFs are one of the most significant classes of materials to be developed in recent times. They are nanoporous solids formed by connecting metal ions or clusters with organic linking molecules to form extended networks. Their huge porosity and accessible surface area (up to 5-6,000m2g-1) makes them absolutely ideal for storage and delivery uses. As a result, there is significant academic activity developing and studying these materials for a diverse range of applications such as gas handling (including carbon capture, hydrogen and methane storage, gas separation, toxic gas capture), environmental remediation and pollution prevention, catalysis, energy applications and drug delivery.

To realise the full innovative potential of applying MOFs to polymer-based products, suitable methods for their incorporation and processing must be developed. Many polymer-based articles, including catheter tubing, are manufactured by extrusion. To date, however, there is a lack of studies reported in the literature regarding MOF processing into shaped polymer-based product components using this technique. In addition, there are no studies into the large scale post-processing of such extruded articles to enable MOF activation and subsequent gas loading, which are essential steps for any application requiring gas adsorption/release. This project will address this lack of information on the manufacturing of MOF-based polymer articles and will develop the utilisation of MOFs as delivery agents for the medically useful gas nitric oxide (NO) as a model application.

NO is a biological signalling molecule that has antimicrobial, vasodilatory, antithrombotic and wound healing properties. Exogenous delivery of NO has the potential to offer advanced therapies that mimic natural processes and address pressing societal challenges. Currently, only systemic NO delivery is possible using pro-drugs (e.g. glyceryl trinitrate) or, direct inhalation of the gas. However, these approaches can lead to unwanted side-effects. Localised and controlled delivery of NO (e.g. from implantable devices) has long been sought by clinicians but is yet to be realised. NO-releasing MOFs (developed by the applicants) have the potential to achieve this goal if they can be processed successfully into the appropriate devices. Successful incorporation into, for example, urinary, cardiovascular and haemodialysis catheters will reduce healthcare associated infections, alleviate procedural complication during the treatment of heart disease, and reduce the risk of thrombosis during haemodialysis. As is currently the case in many areas of MOF application research, realisation of the potential benefits offered by MOFs is reliant on the successful development and understanding of their processing into end-product form.


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Description The project has developed several of the following aspects

1. The extrusion of polymer/metal-organic framework composites has been successfully achieved with excellent dispersion of the MOF particles within the polymer.
2. The mechanical properties have been assessed and shown to have no issues that would prevent exploitation
3. The materials have been shown to be non-toxic and do not instigate inflammation.
4. The biological applications in vasodilation, anti-thrombosis and anti bacterial have been shown to be positive
5. Methods of upscaling the manufacture, gas loading and packaging have been developed.
Exploitation Route We have initiated a vehicle (ACTIFRAME) as a pre-spin out to explore how to take this technology further. We have been successful in raising significant extra funding to continue the project for three more years
Sectors Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology