This patent application is a continuation that claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §120 to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/764,050, filed Apr. 20, 2010, a 35 U.S.C. §111 patent application that claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/170,895 filed Apr. 20, 2009, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present specification discloses purified silk fibroin and method for purifying silk fibroins, hydrogels comprising silk fibroin with or without an amphiphilic peptide and methods for making hydrogels comprising silk fibroin and the use of silk fibroin hydrogels in a variety of medical uses, including, without limitation fillers for tissue space, templates for tissue reconstruction or regeneration, scaffolds for cells in tissue engineering applications and for disease models, a surface coating to improve medical device function, or as a platform for drug delivery.
Silk refers to a filamentous product secreted by an organism such as a spider or silkworm. Fibroin is the primary structural component of silk. It is composed of monomeric units comprising an about 350 kDa heavy chain and an about 25 kDa light chain, and interspersed within the fibroin monomers is another about 25 kDa protein derived from the P25 gene. The ratio of heavy chain:light chain:P25 protein is about 6:6:1. Fibroin is secreted by the silk glands of the organism as a pair of complementary fibrils called “brins”. As fibroin brins leave the glands, they are coated with sericin, a glue-like substance which binds the brins together. Sericin is often antigenic and may be associated with an adverse tissue reaction when sericin-containing silk is implanted in vivo.
Silkworm silk fibers traditionally available in the commercial market are often termed “degummed”, which refers to the loosening and removal of a portion of the sericin coat surrounding the two fibroin brins through washing or extraction in hot soapy water. This degummed silk often contains or is recoated with sericin and other impurities in order to bind the plied multifilament together into a single fiber. Therefore, degummed silk, unless explicitly stated to the contrary, typically contains twenty percent to twenty-eight percent (by weight) sericin and can not be assumed to be sericin-free.
Silk fibers have historically been valued in surgery for their mechanical properties, particularly in the form of braided filaments used as a suture material. Residual sericin that may be contained in these materials stands as a potential obstacle to its use as a biomaterial as it does present the possibility for a heightened immune response. This sericin contamination may be substantially removed though, resulting in a virtually sericin-free fibroin which may be used either as fibers or dissolved and reconstituted in a number of forms. For example, natural silk from the silkworm Bombyx mori may be subjected to sericin extraction, spun into yarns then used to create a matrix with high tensile strength suitable for applications such as bioengineered ligaments and tendons. Use of regenerated silk materials has also been proposed for a number of medical purposes including wound protection, cell culture substrate, enzyme immobilization, soft contact lenses, and drug-release agents.
Silk fibroin devices whether native, dissolved, or reconstituted, do not typically contain cell-binding domains such as those found in collagen, fibronectin, and many other extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules. Fibroin is also strongly hydrophobic due to the β-sheet-rich crystalline network of the core fibroin protein. These two factors couple to severely limit the capacity of native host cells to bind to and interact with implanted silk devices, as neither inflammatory cells like macrophages or reparative cells like fibroblasts are able to attach strongly, infiltrate and bioresorb the silk fibroin devices. In the case of virgin silk and black braided (wax or silicone coated) silk sutures, this is typically manifested in a harsh foreign-body response featuring peripheral encapsulation. Substantially sericin-free silk experiences a similar, though substantially less vigorous response when implanted. In essence, the host cells identify silk as a foreign body and opt to wall it off rather than interact with it. This severely limits the subsequent long-term potential of the device particularly relating to tissue in-growth and remodeling and potentially, the overall utility of the device. If it is possible to provide a more effective biomaterial formulation for mediating host-device interactions whereby cells are provided with a recognizable, acceptable and hence biocompatible surface, the biological, medicinal and surgical utility of silk is dramatically improved.
One possible means of introducing this improved cell-material interaction is to alter the silk fibroin material format into a more biocompatible matrix. Manipulating the silk fibroin to make it into a silk hydrogel formulation is one particularly intriguing option because it consists of a silk protein network which is fully saturated with water, coupling the molecular resiliency of silk with the biocompatibility of a “wet” material. Generation of a silk hydrogel may be accomplished in short by breaking apart native silk fibroin polymers into its individual monomeric components using a solvent species, replacing the solvent with water, then inducing a combination of inter- and intra-molecular aggregation. It has been shown that the sol-gel transition can be selectively initiated by changing the concentration of the protein, temperature, pH and additive (e.g., ions and hygroscopic polymers such as poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), poloxamer, and glycerol). Increasing the silk concentration and temperature may alter the time taken for silk gelation by increasing the frequency of molecular interactions, increasing the chances of polymer nucleation. Another means of accelerating silk gelation is through use of calcium ions which may interact with the hydrophilic blocks at the ends of silk molecules in solution prior to gelation. Decreasing pH and the addition of a hydrophilic polymer have been shown to enhance gelation, possibly by decreasing repulsion between individual silk molecules in solution and subsequently competing with silk fibroin molecules in solution for bound water, causing fibroin precipitation and aggregation.
Other silk fibroin gels have been produced by, for example, mixing an aqueous silk fibroin solution with protein derived biomaterials such as gelatin or chitosan. Recombinant proteins materials based on silk fibroin's structure have also been used to create self-assembling hydrogel structures. Another silk gel, a silk fibroin-poly-(vinyl alcohol) gel was created by freeze- or air-drying an aqueous solution, then reconstituting in water and allowing to self-assemble. Silk hydrogels have also been generated by either exposing the silk solution to temperature condition of 4° C. (Thermgel) or by adding thirty percent (v/v) glycerol (Glygel). Silk hydrogels created via a freeze-thaw process have not only been generated but also used in vitro as a cell culture scaffold.
The use of silk hydrogels as biomaterial matrices has also been explored in a number of ways. General research on hydrogels as platforms for drug delivery, specifically the release behavior of benfotiamine (a synthetic variant of vitamin B1) coupled to silk hydrogel was investigated. The study revealed both silk concentration and addition of other compounds may factor in to the eventual release profile of the material. Similarly, the release of FITC-labeled dextran from a silk hydrogel could be manipulated by altering the silk concentrations within the gel.
Further studies of silk hydrogels have been performed in vivo as well. For example, the material has been used in vivo to provide scaffolding for repair of broken bones in rabbits and showed an accelerated healing rate relative to control animals. Of particular interest, the in situ study also illustrated that the particular formulation of silk hydrogel did not elicit an extensive immune response from the host.
Despite early promise with silk hydrogel formulations in vivo, sericin contamination remains a concern in their generation and use just as with native fibroin for reasons of biocompatibility as well as the potential for sericin to alter gelation kinetics. The existence of sericin molecules in the silk solution intermediate prior to gelation may also compromise final gel structural quality, i.e., the distribution of β-sheet structure. For these reasons the removal of sericin from silk fibroin material prior to hydrogel manufacture remains a concern. The potential for disruption of gelation kinetics and structure by contaminants also presents the need for development of a process which consistently ensures structural uniformity and biocompatibility.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The embodiments described herein provide for silk hydrogel formulations that may be useful for a variety of medical uses. More specifically, example embodiments of the present invention provide for gels including silk fibroin and peptides. Other example embodiments provide for the use of organic enhancers which improve device utility and functional peptide enhancers that may improve utility and biocompatibility of silk formulations. Silk hydrogel embodiments may be used as tissue space fillers, templates for tissue reconstruction or regeneration, cell culture scaffolds for tissue engineering and for disease models, surface coating to improve medical device function, or drug delivery devices.
One embodiment provides for an injectable silk gel comprising a gel phase and a carrier phase (which may provide additional lubricity) in which the gel phase comprises water, substantially sericin-depleted silk fibroin and an amphiphilic peptide. In another embodiment, the gel phase is about 1% to 99%, for example the gel phase is about 50% to about 99% of the total formulation volume with the carrier phase providing the remainder. For example, the gel phase is about 75% of the total formulation volume and the carrier phase is the remaining 25%. The gel phase may comprise about 0.5% to about 20% silk fibroin protein by mass, for example about 1% to about 10%, or about 4% to about 6%. In one embodiment, the silk fibroin comprises about 0.5% to about 9.9% of the total formulation mass.
In a particular embodiment, the peptide is an amphiphilic peptide consisting of a tail region, followed by a spacer region and finally the sequence arginine-glycine-aspartic acid, known as the RGD motif. For example, the total peptide is 23 amino acids in length (hereinafter, referred to as “23RGD”). The gel phase may comprise, for example, a molar ratio of about 1:100 moles to about 100:1 moles of this peptide per mole of silk fibroin.
Another example embodiment provides for an injectable gel formulation comprising silk fibroin and an amphiphilic peptide, wherein the formulation comprises from about 1% about 20%, for example about 4% to about 6% silk fibroin, and the amphiphilic peptide is 23RGD.
Yet another embodiment provides for an injectable gel formulation comprising silk fibroin and 23RGD, wherein the formulation comprises from about 4% to about 6% silk fibroin, and 23RGD concentration is 3:1 moles 23RGD/mole silk.
Another particular embodiment provides for an implantable gel formulation comprising silk fibroin and the 23RGD wherein the gel formulation comprises from about 4% to about 8% silk fibroin and the 23RGD concentration is about 1:10 to 10:1 moles of 23RGD per mole of silk fibroin.
In another embodiment, the gel phase comprises a protein structure consisting predominantly of the β-sheet conformation with components of α-helix, random coil, and unordered structures.
Another example embodiment of invention relates to a kit including a sterile silk gel formulation packaged in a 1 mL syringe with a 26 g needle and blended with a material commonly referred to as a “local anesthetic”. This anesthetic might be more specifically lidocane. Dependent upon application, the kit includes syringes sizes from 0.5 mL to 60 mL, where applications requiring larger volumes (e.g., bone fillers, disc fillers) are supplied in a larger size syringe. Additionally, needle gage is adjusted according to injection site with an acceptable range of 10 g to 30 g needles. For example, 26 g to 30 g needles are used for intradermal injections. Furthermore, the local anesthetic is not blended into the formulation for applications where the anesthetic is preferably applied separately or applications for which an anesthetic is not needed.
In another embodiment, the silk gel formulation is processed in a batch system by obtaining an 8% silk solution, adding ethanol/23RGD to generate a firm 4%-6% gel, allowing this to stand for at least 24 hours. The gel is then rinsed in water to remove residual free gelation agents (both 23RGD and ethanol), adding saline solution to the gel as a carrier phase and developing a homogeneous suspension. Suspension viscosity/injectability is then tailored by manipulating gel concentration, particle size, and saline content, milling the gel to a desired particle size that makes the gel injectable through a needle (for example a 30 g needle), loading the gel into a syringe, and sterilizing the gel with gamma irradiation.
In another aspect, the injectable formulation includes a gel comprising substantially sericin-depleted silk fibroin and an amphiphilic peptide and a carrier phase, wherein the formulation, upon injection, remains substantially at the injection site for about two weeks to about sixty months depending upon a desired application. For example, one formulation, for soft tissue filling may employ a 1%-6% silk gel with 20%-50% saline carrier at an average particle size of 20 μm-30 μm, and be deliverable through a 26 g-30 g needle with ˜5N of force while remaining substantially for one month to nine months at the injection site. One example formulation for hard tissue filling may employ a 6%-10% silk gel with 0%-25% saline carrier at a 50 μm-1000 μm particle size, and be deliverable through a 10 g-18 g needle at ˜5N of force while remaining substantially for nine to fifteen months at the injection site.
In one embodiment, the present invention provides a five-amino acid peptide “tail” capable of linking or conjugating a molecule X to a silk molecule or fibroin when the molecule X is attached to the tail. In one embodiment, the tail peptide comprises of hydrophobic and/or apolar amino acid residues. In another embodiment, the tail peptide comprises of amino acid residues capable of hydrogen bonding and/or covalent bonding. In other embodiments, the tail peptide comprises any of the twenty conventional standard amino acid residues.
In one embodiment, the five-amino acid peptide “tail” comprises amino acid residues that are part hydrophobic (i.e. the part of the side-chain nearest to the protein main-chain), for e.g. arginine and lysine.
In one embodiment, the five-amino acid peptide “tail” is separated from a molecule X by a spacer peptide. The length of the space peptide can be of variable length.
In one embodiment, the molecule X is any biological molecule or fragment thereof. In other embodiments, the molecule X is any recombinant, synthetic, or non-native polymeric compounds. Basically, a molecule X is any entity, natural or synthetic, that can be useful and can be use in the context of silk hydrogels.
In one embodiment, the present invention provides a synthetic molecule having the formula: (molecule X)n-(spacer peptide)0-300-(tail)-NH2 for linking with silk molecule or fibroin, wherein “n” is a whole integer ranging from 1-30, and wherein the amino acid residues of the spacer ranges from 0-300.
In one embodiment, the invention provides a method of conjugating a molecule X to a silk molecule or fibroin comprising mixing a synthetic molecule having the formula: (molecule X)n-(spacer peptide)0-300-(tail)-NH2 with a silk molecule or fibroin or silk solution, wherein “n” is a whole integer ranging from 1-30, and wherein the amino acid residues of the spacer ranges from 0-300.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 illustrates the impact of 23RGD on the gelation times of silk hydrogels manufactured under various circumstances for example without enhancers or with a water/23RGD enhancer (FIG. 1A), or with an ethanol enhancer or combined ethanol-23RGD enhancers (FIG. 1B). Depending upon the ratio of 23RGD to silk used and the specific enhancer solvents, the peptide may function as either an accelerant or decelerant of the process.
FIG. 2 is a graph of HPLC data illustrating the integration of 23RGD and stability of its binding to 4% silk gel material made with an enhancer solution consisting of a 3:1 molar ratio of 23RGD:silk dissolved in 90% ethanol, 10% water when rinsed multiple times in ultra-purified water over several days. Data are shown for both total peak area and calculated 23RGD:silk molar ratio based on a 23RGD standard curve.
FIG. 3 is a graph comparing gel dry mass component at different RGD concentrations for 2% silk gels (A), 4% silk gels (B), and 6% gels (C). * Samples differ significantly, p<0.05; † sample differs significantly from all others; ‡ all samples differ significantly.
FIG. 4 illustrates the impact upon silk hydrogel water absorption and retention as identified in a gel drying assay. Data are shown as the percentage of mass retained by a silk gel sample (n=4 for each type) after being subjected to a 96-hour lyophilization process. Increasing concentrations of 23RGD enhancer caused increasing dry mass in the gel materials more substantial than the mass of the peptide itself. This phenomenon is likely due to structural differences in 23RGD-enhanced gels which do not permit a level of water entrainment equal to those of gels enhanced only with ethanol.
FIG. 5 shows a comparison of the percent mass loss over time due to bioresorption of samples cast by PG and EEG methods (A), cast from increasing silk concentrations (B), and cast using increasing RGD concentrations (C). * Samples differ significantly, p<0.05; † sample differs significantly from all others; ‡ all samples differ significantly.
FIG. 6 illustrates wet mass loss due to proteolytic bioresorption of silk hydrogels enhanced by a combination of 23RGD and ethanol at increasing concentrations of 23RGD. As a general trend, gels enhanced with 23RGD tend to be bioresorbed more quickly based upon this assay.
FIG. 7 is a second illustration of the bioresorption behavior of 23RGD-enhanced and non-23RGD-enhanced silk hydrogels when incubated in a protease solution. This bioresorption data serves to reinforce the trend, illustrated in FIG. 5, of a slightly more rapid rate of bioresorption of 23RGD-enhanced hydrogels in comparison to non-23RGD-enhanced gels. The figure also supports the more thorough removal of α-helix and random coil conformations from 23RGD-enhanced gels in FIG. 6 over four days of incubation in protease.
FIG. 8 shows structural features observed by Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy of 4% silk fibroin hydrogel devices which are enhanced by ethanol alone, and two 23RGD-ethanol enhancers. The full spectra (FIG. 9A) of the materials are compared and the Amide I Band (1700-1600 cm−1) highlighted for particular attention (FIG. 9B) because of its relevance to secondary protein structure. Of specific interest is the commonality between all gels in their rich β-sheet structure (1700 cm−1 and 1622 cm−1 respectively, highlighted in FIGS. 9C and 9E) at all time points. These peaks become more pronounced after bioresorption, and begin to differentiate 23RGD-enhanced materials from materials enhanced with ethanol alone. This is evidenced in 23RGD-enhanced gels by a peak shift to lower wave numbers by the 1622 cm−1 peak and dramatically increased prominence of the 1700 cm−1 peak. Additional differences between bioresorbed and non-bioresorbed gels may be seen in regions of the spectrum known to correlate to α-helix and random coil conformations (1654 cm−1 and 1645 cm−1 respectively highlighted in FIG. 9D). These conformations are extensively digested in all gel types, but most completely in gels enhanced by 23RGD. This suggests that 23RGD-enhanced gels tend to bioresorb to a very β-sheet rich secondary structure in a more rapid fashion than non-23RGD-enhanced gels. Spectra shown were collected on a Bruker Equinox 55 FTIR unit using a compilation of 128 scans with a resolution of 4 cm−1.
FIG. 9 shows a comparative FTIR spectra illustrating the effects of differing gelation techniques on gel protein structure before (Day 0) and after (Day 4) proteolytic bioresorption. Groups assessed included samples cast by PG and EEG methods (A), cast from increasing silk concentrations (B), and cast using increasing RGD concentrations (C).
FIG. 10 shows representative micrographs of H&E-stained histological sections collected from silk gels implanted subcutaneously in rats. Samples of 4% silk fibroin hydrogel formed by passive gelation (4P), 4% silk fibroin hydrogel formed by ethanol-enhanced gelation (4E), and 6% silk fibroin hydrogel formed by ethanol-enhanced gelation (6E) were compared at 7 days (A, B, and E respectively) with 4E and 6E samples compared again at days 28 (C and F) and 57 (D and G).
FIG. 11 shows representative gross photographs of 8% silk fibroin hydrogel devices both unmodified (A) and 23RGD-enhanced (D) after a two-week subcutaneous incubation in Lewis rats. Also shown are micrographs resultant from H & E stains of the unmodified (B and C) and 23RGD-coupled (E and F) samples at 10× and 20× magnification. These gross images coupled with the histological micrographs provide evidence of a less extensive inflammatory response during early device integration being associated with 23RGD-enhanced gel than non-23RGD-enhanced gel.
FIG. 12 shows representative histology collected from a thirteen-week study of 4% 3:1 23RGD-enhanced silk hydrogel blended with 25% saline (left panels, H&E stain Trichrome stain) and ZYPLAST™ (right panels H&E stain, Trichrome stain) and injected into the intradermis of guinea pig. Each material type exhibited some clear evidence of implanted device in 75% of their respective implant sites. These micrographs indicate strong similarities not only between the long-term bioresorption characteristics but also long-term host tissue response between collagen-derived biomaterials and this particular 23RGD-enhanced silk hydrogel formulation.
FIG. 13 shows representative micrographs of H&E-stained histological sections collected from Day 28 explants of 4% silk fibroin, 10% saline (A); 4% silk fibroin, 1:1 23RGD, 10% saline (B); 6% silk fibroin, 1:1 23RGD, 10% saline (C); ZYPLAST™ (D); 4% silk fibroin, 25% saline (E); 4% silk fibroin, 1:1 23RGD, 25% saline (F); 6% silk fibroin, 10% saline (G); HYLAFORM™ (H); 6% silk fibroin, 25% saline (I); 4% silk fibroin, 3:1 23RGD, 25% saline (J); and 6% silk fibroin, 1:1 23RGD, 25% saline (K).
FIG. 14 shows representative micrographs of Day 92 histological sections of 4% silk fibroin, 3:1 23RGD, 25% saline (A-D) and ZYPLAST™ samples (E-H) stained with H&E at 4× (A and E), 10× (B and F), stained with Masson's Trichrome at 10× (C and G) and under polarized light at 10× (D and H).
FIG. 15 is a photograph of a custom-built testing jig used in conjunction with an Instron 8511 (Instron Corporation, Canton Mass.) in conjunction with Series IX software and a 100 N load cell for characterizing the injection forces associated with forcing silk gel through a 30 g needle.
FIG. 16 illustrates the average extrusion force data from mechanical testing of various silk gel formulations illustrating the effects of changing comminution method (A), saline concentration (B), silk concentration (C), and RGD content (D). Values are reported as an average of n=4 tests at each displacement rate with standard deviation illustrated as error bars. * Samples differ significantly, p<0.05; † sample differs significantly from all others in group at same strain rate; ‡ all samples in group differ significantly from all others in group at same strain rate.
FIG. 17 shows representative ESEM micrographs of selected RGD/ethanol-induced silk precipitates generated from the previously mentioned formulations. BASE (A), SCVLO (B), RHI (C), RLO (D), AVHI (E), ECLO (F), AVLO (G), and 3R 6.7:1 (H) are shown at 200× magnification.
FIG. 18 shows a comparison of the total dry mass of precipitate recovered from each silk precipitate formulation (n=4 for each type) after being subjected to a 96-hour lyophilization process. Data are grouped to compare the effects of changing volume ratio of accelerant added (A), concentration of 23RGD in the accelerant (B), changing the initial silk concentration (C), and changing the concentration of ethanol in the accelerant (D). It was shown that increasing any of these volumes or concentrations resulted in greater quantities of precipitate, though none appear to have substantially greater impact than another. This phenomenon is likely due to basic kinetics of the assembly reaction, with each reagent in turn appearing both as an excess and as limiting dependent upon the specific formulation. *—significant difference, p<0.05; †—Group differs significantly from all others.
FIG. 19 shows a comparison of the percentage of dry mass in each of precipitate recovered (n=4 for each type) after being subjected to a 96-hour lyophilization process. Data are grouped to compare the effects of changing volume ratio of accelerant added (A), concentration of 23RGD in the accelerant (B), changing the initial silk concentration (C), and changing the concentration of ethanol in the accelerant (D). Increasing the concentration of 23RGD used increased the dry mass percentage of precipitates, while increasing the ethanol percentage in the accelerant decreased dry mass. These changes may stem from formation of altered gel network structures caused by manipulation of these variables, likely more crystalline in the case of 23RGD increases and less crystalline in the case of ethanol concentration increases. *—significant difference, p<0.05; †—Group differs significantly from all others.
FIG. 20 shows representative FTIR spectra of the Amide I band for 23RGD/ethanol-induced silk precipitates immediately after processing (D0). Spectra are grouped to compare the effects of changing volume ratio of accelerant added (A), concentration of 23RGD in the accelerant (B), changing the initial silk concentration (C), and changing the concentration of ethanol in the accelerant (D). These spectra illustrate that similarities exist between all groups although changing 23RGD concentrations and ethanol concentrations may substantially impact precipitate structure. Increasing concentrations of decreased β-sheet seen in a peak shift from 1621 cm−1 in RVLO to ˜1624 cm−1 in RLO. A further increase in 23RGD concentration in both BASE and RHI caused this weakened β-sheet again along with increased signal values in the 1654 cm−1 and 1645 cm−1 range, correlating to increased random coil and α-helical content. An increased percentage of ethanol decreased the content of α-helical and random coil shown by decreased signal between 1670 cm−1 and 1630 cm−1 in both ECLO and BASE samples relative to ECVLO. This decrease in α-helical and random coil is accompanied by an increase in β-sheet structure. The findings relating to 23RGD and ethanol concentrations reinforce the trends observed in the percent dry mass of the precipitates, supposing that α-helical and random coil motifs entrain more water than β-sheet regions.
FIG. 21 is a representative micrograph of Congo red-stained 23RGD/ethanol-induced silk precipitates under polarized light at 20× magnification. A lack of emerald-green birefringence indicates a negative result in testing for amyloid fibril formation.
FIG. 22 shows comparison of 23RGD:silk molar ratio in each of precipitate recovered. Data are grouped to compare the effects of changing volume ratio of accelerant added (A), concentration of 23RGD in the accelerant (B), changing the initial silk concentration (C), and changing the concentration of ethanol in the accelerant (D). In examining the 23RGD bound to the precipitates, all materials contained more 23RGD than predicted by initial calculations aside of AVHI, RVLO, RHI, and SCVLO. In the cases of AVHI and ECLO the 23RGD quantity was substantially more than was expected. In the cases of BASE, RLO, SCVLO, and SOLO the 23RGD quantities were approximately double that expected. This may be indicative of the formation of a 23RGD dimer in the 90% ethanol accelerant solution. The RVLO samples were made with a 23RGD concentration of 0.49 mg/mL in the accelerant, the lowest used in this study and potentially within the solubility range of 23RGD in 90% ethanol. RLO samples used 1.47 mg/mL and most other formulations were made with a 23RGD accelerant concentration of 2.45 mg/mL, above the 23RGD concentration at which dimerization became favorable in the solution. Further highlighting the possibility of 23RGD dimerizing in the ethanol solution is the behavior of ECLO precipitation. The 23RGD concentration remains 2.45 mg/mL as with BASE and AVLO but the water concentration in the accelerant is increased to 20% and results in a binding of about 1.5-fold the expected total of 23RGD instead of 2-fold. This may be due to dis-solution of a greater quantity of 23RGD, causing coexistence between dimeric and monomeric 23RGD in solution reflected in the subsequent binding ratios. *—significant difference, p<0.05; †—Group differs significantly from all others; ‡—All groups differ significantly.
FIG. 23 shows a representative FTIR spectra of the Amide I band are shown for 23RGD/ethanol-induced silk precipitates initially (D0) and after proteolytic bioresorption (D2). Spectra are grouped to compare the effects of changing volume ratio of accelerant added (A), concentration of 23RGD in the accelerant (B), changing the initial silk concentration (C), and changing the concentration of ethanol in the accelerant (D). Accelerant quantity added did not substantially affect the bioresorption behavior of the materials as BASE, AVHI and AVLO all featured decreased levels of α-helix and random coil motifs. This decrease was slightly larger in the case of AVLO which also featured a peak shift from 1624 cm−1 to 1622 cm−1, indicating a more stable β-sheet structure. 23RGD concentration did not appear to affect bioresorption behavior of the materials either as RVLO, RLO, BASE and RHI all showed decreased in α-helix and random coil motifs, though a greater portion of α-helix and random coil remained intact in RHI. Silk concentration did not substantially affect the bioresorption behavior of the materials as BASE and SOLO exhibited decreased levels of α-helix and random coil motifs and featured slight peak shifts from 1624 cm−1 to 1623 cm−1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION
It should be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular methodology, protocols, and reagents, etc., described herein and as such may vary. The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention, which is defined solely by the claims.
As used herein and in the claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include the plural reference unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Thus, for example, the reference to a peptide is a reference to one or more such peptides, including equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art. Other than in the operating examples, or where otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities of ingredients or reaction conditions used herein should be understood as modified in all instances by the term “about.”
All patents and other publications identified are expressly incorporated herein by reference for the purpose of describing and disclosing, for example, the methodologies described in such publications that might be used in connection with the present invention. These publications are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing in this regard should be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention or for any other reason. All statements as to the date or representation as to the contents of these documents is based on the information available to the applicants and does not constitute any admission as to the correctness of the dates or contents of these documents.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as those commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention pertains. Although any known methods, devices, and materials may be used in the practice or testing of the invention, the methods, devices, and materials in this regard are described here.
As used herein, the term “about” means that the item, parameter or term so qualified encompasses a range of plus or minus ten percent above and below the value of the stated item, parameter or term.
Aspects of the present specification provide, in part, a depolymerized silk fibroin. As used herein, the term “depolymerized silk fibroin” is synonymous with “dissolved silk” and “dissolved silk fibroin” and refers to silk fibroin existing primarily as monomers or other lower oligomeric units. Treatment of naturally-occurring fibrous silk with a dissolution agent, such as, e.g., a chaotropic agent results in depolymerized silk fibroin. The depolymerized silk fibroin used for preparing silk fibroin hydrogel is an intermediate in the silk hydrogel production process and a direct precursor to the hydrogel material. The depolymerized silk fibroin can be made from raw cocoons, previously degummed silk or any other partially cleaned silk. This may also include material commonly termed as “waste” from the reeling process, i.e. short fragments of raw or degummed silk, the sole precaution being that the silk must be substantially cleaned of sericin prior to making fibroin solution and inducing gel formation. A particular source of raw silk is from common domesticated silkworm B. mori, though several other sources of silk may be appropriate. This includes other strains of Bombycidae including Antheraea pernyi, Antheraea yamamai, Antheraea mylitta, Antheraea assama, and Philosamia cynthia ricini, as well as silk producing members of the families Saturnidae, Thaumetopoeidae, and silk-producing members of the order Araneae. The material may also be obtained from other spider, caterpillar, or recombinant sources.
Aspects of the present specification provide, in part, a polymerized silk fibroin. As used herein, the term “polymerized silk fibroin” is synonymous with “silk fibroin” and refers to silk fibroin existing primarily as a polymer. A polymerized silk fibroin or silk fibroin is made by, e.g., a gelation process disclosed in the present specification.
The hydrogels and formulations disclosed in the present specification provide for a depolymerized silk fibroin and/or silk fibroin that is substantially free of sericin.
Methods for performing sericin extraction have been described in pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/008,924, Publication No. 20030100108, Matrix for the production of tissue engineered ligaments, tendons and other tissue, published May 29, 2003. That application refers to cleaned fibroin fibers spun into yarns, used to create a porous, elastic matrix suitable as a substrate for applications requiring very high tensile strength, such as bioengineered ligaments and tendons.
Extractants such as urea solution, hot water, enzyme solutions including papain among others which are known in the art to remove sericin from fibroin would also be acceptable for generation of the silk. Mechanical methods may also be used for the removal of sericin from silk fibroin. This includes but is not limited to ultrasound, abrasive scrubbing and fluid flow. The rinse post-extraction is conducted preferably with vigorous agitation to remove substantially any ionic contaminants, soluble, and in soluble debris present on the silk as monitored through microscopy and solution electrochemical measurements. A criterion is that the extractant predictably and repeatably remove the sericin coat of the source silk without significantly compromising the molecular structure of the fibroin. For example, an extraction may be evaluated for sericin removal via mass loss, amino acid content analysis, and scanning electron microscopy. Fibroin degradation may in turn be monitored by FTIR analysis, standard protein gel electrophoresis and scanning electron microscopy.
In certain cases, the silk utilized for generation of a silk hydrogel has been substantially depleted of its native sericin content (i.e., ≦4% (w/w) residual sericin in the final extracted silk). Alternatively, higher concentrations of residual sericin may be left on the silk following extraction or the extraction step may be omitted. In aspects of this embodiment, the sericin-depleted silk fibroin has, e.g., about 1% (w/w) residual sericin, about 2% (w/w) residual sericin, about 3% (w/w) residual sericin, or about 4% (w/w) residual sericin. In other aspects of this embodiment, the sericin-depleted silk fibroin has, e.g., at most 1% (w/w) residual sericin, at most 2% (w/w) residual sericin, at most 3% (w/w) residual sericin, or at most 4% (w/w) residual sericin. In yet other aspects of this embodiment, the sericin-depleted silk fibroin has, e.g., about 1% (w/w) to about 2% (w/w) residual sericin, about 1% (w/w) to about 3% (w/w) residual sericin, or about 1% (w/w) to about 4% (w/w) residual sericin.
In certain cases, the silk utilized for generation of a silk hydrogel is entirely free of its native sericin content. As used herein, the term “entirely free (i.e. “consisting of” terminology) means that within the detection range of the instrument or process being used, the substance cannot be detected or its presence cannot be confirmed.
In certain cases, the silk utilized for generation of a silk hydrogel is essentially free of its native sericin content. As used herein, the term “essentially free” (or “consisting essentially of”) means that only trace amounts of the substance can be detected.
Additionally, the possibility exists for deliberately modifying hydrogel properties through controlled partial removal of silk sericin or deliberate enrichment of source silk with sericin. This may function to improve hydrogel hydrophilicity and eventual host acceptance in particular biological settings despite sericin antigenicity.
After initial degumming or sericin removal from fibrous silk used for generation of a hydrogel, the silk is rinsed free of gross particulate debris. It is of concern to remove such particles as either solvent (i.e., specific solvent of interest for device generation) soluble or insoluble compounds may profoundly affect the outcome of the hydrogel generated from the intermediate solution. Insoluble compounds may serve as nucleation points, accelerating the gelation phenomenon and potentially altering subsequent hydrogel protein structure. Soluble compounds may also serve to interface with the protein network of the hydrogel, altering the organizational state of the device. Either type of compound could also compromise biocompatibility of the device.
Prior to dissolution, the prepared silk may be subjected to association of various molecules. The binding between these compounds and the silk molecules may be unaffected by the dissolving agent used for preparation of silk solution intermediate. The method for coupling the modifying compound to the prepared silk may vary dependent upon the specific nature of the bond desired between silk sequence and the modifier. Methods are not limited to but may include hydrogen bonding through affinity adsorption, covalent crosslinking of compounds or sequential binding of inactive and active compounds. These molecules may include, but would not be limited to, inorganic compounds, peptides, proteins, glycoproteins, proteoglycans, ionic compounds, natural, and synthetic polymers. Such peptides, proteins, glycoproteins and proteoglycans may include classes of molecules generally referred to as “growth factors”, “cytokines”, “chemokines”, and “extracellular matrix compounds”. These compounds might include such things as surface receptor binding motifs like arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD), growth factors like basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), platelet derived growth factor (PDGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), cytokines like tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interferon (IFN), interleukins (IL), and structural sequences including collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and others. Additionally recombinant, synthetic, or non-native polymeric compounds might be used as decoration including chitin, poly-lactic acid (PLA), and poly-glycolic acid (PGA). Other compounds linked to the material may include classes of molecules generally referred to as tracers, contrasting agents, aptamers, avimers, peptide nuclei acids and modified polysaccharide coatings.
For example, the initially dissolved silk may be generated by a 4 hour digestion at 60° C. of pure silk fibroin at a concentration of 200 g/L in a 9.3 M aqueous solution of lithium bromide to a silk concentration of 20% (w/v). This process may be conducted by other means provided that they deliver a similar degree of dissociation to that provided by a 4 hour digestion at 60° C. of pure silk fibroin at a concentration of 200 g/L in a 9.3 M aqueous solution of lithium bromide. The primary goal of this is to create uniformly and repeatably dissociated silk fibroin molecules to ensure similar fibroin solution properties and, subsequently, device properties. Less substantially dissociated silk solution may have altered gelation kinetics resulting in differing final gel properties. The degree of dissociation may be indicated by Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) or x-ray diffraction (XRD) and other modalities that quantitatively and qualitatively measure protein structure. Additionally, one may confirm that heavy and light chain domains of the silk fibroin dimer have remained intact following silk processing and dissolution. This may be achieved by methods such as standard protein sodium-dodecyl-sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) which assess molecular weight of the independent silk fibroin domains.
System parameters which may be modified in the initial dissolution of silk include but are not limited to solvent type, silk concentration, temperature, pressure, and addition of mechanical disruptive forces. Solvent types other than aqueous lithium bromide may include but are not limited to aqueous solutions, alcohol solutions, 1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoro-2-propanol, and hexafluoroacetone, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium. These solvents may be further enhanced by addition of urea or ionic species including lithium bromide, calcium chloride, lithium thiocyanate, zinc chloride, magnesium salts, sodium thiocyanate, and other lithium and calcium halides would be useful for such an application. These solvents may also be modified through adjustment of pH either by addition of acidic of basic compounds.
Further tailoring of the solvent system may be achieved through modification of the temperature and pressure of the solution, as ideal dissolution conditions will vary by solvent selected and enhancers added. Mechanical mixing methods employed may also vary by solvent type and may vary from general agitation and mixing to ultrasonic disruption of the protein aggregates. Additionally, the resultant dissolved silk concentration may be tailored to range from about 1% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v). It may be possible to expand this range to include higher fractions of dissolved silk depending upon the specific solvent system utilized. In one example, following initial dissolution of the processed silk, the silk protein may be left in a pure aqueous solution at 8% (w/v) silk. This is accomplished by removal of the residual solvent system while simultaneously ensuring that the aqueous component of the silk solution is never fully removed nor compromised. In a situation which involves an initial solution of 200 g/L silk in a 9.3 M aqueous solution of lithium bromide, this end is accomplished by a dialysis step.
In aspects of this embodiment, the depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) has a concentration of, e.g., about 1% (w/v), about 2% (w/v), about 3% (w/v), about 4% (w/v), about 5% (w/v), about 6% (w/v), about 7% (w/v), about 8% (w/v), about 9% (w/v), about 10% (w/v), about 12% (w/v), about 15% (w/v), about 18% (w/v), about 20% (w/v), about 25% (w/v), or about 30% (w/v). In other aspects of this embodiment, the depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) has a concentration of, e.g., at least 1% (w/v), at least 2% (w/v), at least 3% (w/v), at least 4% (w/v), at least 5% (w/v), at least 6% (w/v), at least 7% (w/v), at least 8% (w/v), at least 9% (w/v), at least 10% (w/v), at least 12% (w/v), at least 15% (w/v), at least 18% (w/v), at least 20% (w/v), at least 25% (w/v), or at least 30% (w/v). In yet other aspects of this embodiment, the depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) has a concentration of, e.g., about 1% (w/v) to about 5% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 10% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 10% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), or about 10% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v).
Example dialysis conditions include a 3 mL-12 mL sample volume dialysis cassettes with 3.5 kD molecular weight cutoff cellulose membranes dialyzed for three days against ultra-pure water with a series of six changes at regular intervals while stirring constantly. Each cassette, 5 mL-12 mL cartridge size, may be loaded (for example via 20-mL syringe) with 12 mL of a 20% solution of silk dissolved in 9.3 M lithium bromide via an 18 gauge needle. The resultant silk solution may be 8%±0.5% (w/v). The silk solution may be stored at a range of −80° C. to 37° C., such as 4° C. prior to use. One method is to dialyze the solution against water using a 3.5 kD molecular weight cutoff cellulose membrane, for example, at one 12 mL cartridge per 1 L water in a 4 L beaker with stirring for 48 hours or 72 hours. Water may be changed several times during the dialysis, for example at 1 hour, 4 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, and 36 hours (total of six rinses). In other embodiments, this membrane may take the shape of a cassette, tubing or any other semi-permeable membrane in a batch, semi-continuous or continuous system. If desired, the concentration of silk in solution may be raised following the original dialysis step by inclusion of a second dialysis against a hygroscopic polymer such as PEG, a poly(ethylene oxide) or amylase.
The parameters applied to the dialysis step may be altered according to the specific needs or requirements of the particular solution system involved. Although it may be undesirable to change membrane composition or pore size in the interests of maintaining efficiency of the process, it would be possible to change the structuring of the dialysis barrier, as a dialysis tube or any large semi-permeable membrane of similar construction should suffice. Additionally it should be considered that any alteration in the nature of the physical dialysis interface between solution and buffer might alter rates of ion flux and thereby create membrane-localized boundary conditions which could affect solution dialysis and gelation rate kinetics. The duration and volume ratios associated with this dialysis process must be tailored to any new system as well, and removal of the solvent phase should be ensured after purification before proceeding.
It is also possible to change the buffer phase in the dialysis system, altering water purity or adding hygroscopic polymers to simultaneously remove ions and water from the initial silk solution. For example, if necessary, the silk solution can be concentrated by dialysis against a hygroscopic polymer, for example, PEG, a polyethylene oxide or amylase. The apparatus used for dialysis can be cassettes, tubing, or any other semi-permeable membrane.
Insoluble debris may be removed from the dialyzed silk solution by centrifugation or filtration. For example, the dialyzed silk may be removed from the cassette with a needle and syringe (e.g., an 18 g needle at 20 mL syringe), and placed into a clean centrifuge tube with sufficient volume (e.g., 40 mL). The centrifuge may be run at 30,000 g relative centrifugal force (RCF) for 30 minutes at 4° C. The resulting supernatant may be collected and centrifuged again under identical conditions, and the remaining supernatant collected (e.g., in a 50 mL test tube) and stored at 4° C. The silk solution may also be evaluated via X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (to check for lithium bromide residue) and dry mass (to check solution for dry protein mass, concentration w/v).
Additionally, dependent upon the initial silk solvent, it might be desirable to remove portions of either the silk phase or solvent phase from the solution via an affinity column separation. This could be useful in either selectively binding specific solvent molecules or specific solute molecules to be eluted later in a new solvent.
The possibility also exists for a lyophilization of the depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk) followed by a reconstitution step. This would be most useful in a case where removing a solvent, is unlikely to leave residue behind.
In the case of a lyophilized solution, either used as a purification step or as a procedure subsequent to purification, the type of solvent used for reconstitution might be tailored for the process at hand. Desirable solvents might include but are not limited to aqueous alcohol solutions, aqueous solutions with altered pH, and various organic solutions. These solvents may be selected based upon a number of parameters which may include but are not limited to an enhanced gelation rate, altered gel crystalline structure, altered solution intermediate shelf-life, altered silk solubility, and ability to interact with environmental milieu such as temperature and humidity.
In certain embodiments, a silk hydrogel is prepared from dissolved silk fibroin solution that uses an agent to enhance gelation and an agent to improve the gel\'s biocompatibility. In some instances, the same agent both enhances gelation and improves biocompatibility. An example agent that both improves gel biocompatibility and serves as a gelation enhancer is an amphiphilic peptide which binds to silk molecules through hydrophobic interactions, such as, e.g., a RGD motif containing peptide like 23RGD. In other instances, different agents serve these purposes. An example of an agent that serves as a gelation enhancer is an alcohol, such as, e.g., ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol; glycerol; and acetone.
Regarding gelation enhancers, to accelerate the phenomenon of silk gelation, a depolymerized silk fibroin solution (dissolved silk solution) may be mixed with pure alcohol or aqueous alcohol solution at varied volume ratios accompanied by mixing, either through stirring, shaking or any other form of agitation. This alcohol solution enhancer may then have a quantity of an amphiphilic peptide added as a further enhancer of the final gel outcome. The extent of acceleration may be heightened or lessened by adding a larger or smaller enhancer component to the system.
In addition to organics, the gelation rate may be enhanced by increasing the concentration of the depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk). This is done by methods including but not limited to dialysis of intermediate silk solution against a buffer incorporating a hygroscopic species such as polyethylene glycol, a lyophilization step, and an evaporation step. Increased temperature may also be used as an enhancer of the gelation process. In addition to this, manipulation of intermediate silk solution pH by methods including but not limited to direct titration and gas exchange may be used to enhance the gelation process. Introduction of select ionic species including calcium and potassium in particular may also be used to accelerate gelation rate.
Nucleating agents including organic and inorganic species, both soluble and insoluble in an aqueous silk solution intermediate may be used to enhance the gelation process. These may include but are not limited to peptide sequences which bind silk molecules, previously gelled silk, and poorly soluble β-sheet rich structures. A further means of accelerating the gelation process is through the introduction of mechanical excitation. This might be imparted through a shearing device, ultrasound device, or mechanical mixer. It should be borne in mind that any of these factors might conceivably be used in concert with any other or group of others and that the regime would need to be tailored to the desired outcome.
The time necessary for complete silk solution gelation may vary from seconds to hours or days, depending on the values of the above mentioned parameters as well as the initial state of aggregation and organization found in the silk solution (FIG. 1). The volume fraction of added enhancer may vary from about 0% to about 99% of the total system volume (i.e., either component may be added to a large excess of the other or in any relative concentration within the interval). The concentration of silk solution used can range from about 1% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v). The enhancer can be added to silk solution or the silk solution can be added to enhancer. The formed silk hydrogel may be further chemically or physically cross-linked to gain altered mechanical properties.
In aspects of this embodiment, an enhancer solution is added to a depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) solution, the depolymerized silk fibroin solution having a concentration of depolymerized silk fibroin of, e.g., about 1% (w/v), about 2% (w/v), about 3% (w/v), about 4% (w/v), about 5% (w/v), about 6% (w/v), about 7% (w/v), about 8% (w/v), about 9% (w/v), about 10% (w/v), about 12% (w/v), about 15% (w/v), about 18% (w/v), about 20% (w/v), about 25% (w/v), or about 30% (w/v). In other aspects of this embodiment, an enhancer solution is added to a depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) solution, the depolymerized silk fibroin solution having a concentration of depolymerized silk fibroin of, e.g., at least 1% (w/v), at least 2% (w/v), at least 3% (w/v), at least 4% (w/v), at least 5% (w/v), at least 6% (w/v), at least 7% (w/v), at least 8% (w/v), at least 9% (w/v), at least 10% (w/v), at least 12% (w/v), at least 15% (w/v), at least 18% (w/v), at least 20% (w/v), at least 25% (w/v), or at least 30% (w/v). In yet other aspects of this embodiment, an enhancer solution is added to a depolymerized silk fibroin (dissolved silk fibroin) solution, the depolymerized silk fibroin solution having a concentration of depolymerized silk fibroin of, e.g., about 1% (w/v) to about 5% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 10% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), about 1% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 10% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), about 5% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 15% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 20% (w/v), about 10% (w/v) to about 25% (w/v), or about 10% (w/v) to about 30% (w/v).
A further aspect of some embodiments relates to the inclusion of a peptide in the silk fibroin solution. Examples of such peptides include amphiphilic peptides. Amphiphilic molecules possess both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. Many other amphiphilic molecules interact strongly with biological membranes by insertion of the hydrophobic part into the lipid membrane, while exposing the hydrophilic part to the aqueous environment. Particular embodiments of hydrogels include silk fibroin, silk fibroin with 23RGD, silk fibroin with alcohol and 23RGD, and silk fibroin with alcohol, 23RGD, and saline/PBS. The amount, relative ratio and sequence of adding the components will change according to the specific requirement for the device.