Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type





Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas D. Dziubla


Despite recent advances in surgical technique and the development of numerous therapeutic agents, the formation post surgical adhesions (PSA) continues to cause complications for many patients. In this research, we have employed a rational system to develop a novel treatment to address this clinical need. Based on an understanding of the biochemical events that lead to PSA formation, a series of targeted polymeric biomaterials was designed to interrupt the fibrin gel matrix propagation and suppress PSA formation.

Using group transfer polymerization, a series of well controlled block copolymers of polyacrylic acid and poly(ethylene glycol-methacrylate) based materials was synthesized. Subsequent functionalization with the pentapeptide Cys-Arg-Glu-Lys-Ala (CREKA) was employed to target the materials to fibrin as a marker of pro-adhesive sites. While preliminary testing of the untargeted materials verified their ability to suppress non-specific protein adsorption to model surfaces, numerous in vitro tests were conducted to study the ability to inhibit fibrin gel propagation. The ability to inhibit both the rate and quantity of fibrinogen deposition to a fibrin coated surface has been demonstrated. In addition, the rate of fibrin gel propagation and the degree of cellular attachment can modulated.

Taking advantage of the systematic variation in structure facilitated by the robust synthetic methodology employed, statistical analysis was used to elucidate the structureproperty relationships governing the performance of these materials. The most important factors that lead to enhanced performance in in vitro tests are the length of PEG chain and number of peptide units conjugated to the polymer: increasing PEG chain length and increasing the number of peptides conjugated to the polymer both improve performance in all tests. The synthetic methods that have been developed, in conjunction with the experimental results, will be used to direct future studies, including cytotoxicity and animal studies.



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