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Biomacromolecules. 2009 May 11;10(5):1032-42. doi: 10.1021/bm800956n.

Stabilization of enzymes in silk films.

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  • 1Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Physics, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155, USA.


Material systems are needed that promote stabilization of entrained molecules, such as enzymes or therapeutic proteins, without destroying their activity. We demonstrate that the unique structure of silk fibroin protein, when assembled into the solid state, establishes an environment that is conducive to the stabilization of entrained proteins. Enzymes (glucose oxidase, lipase, and horseradish peroxidase) entrapped in these films over 10 months retained significant activity, even when stored at 37 degrees C, and in the case of glucose oxidase did not lose any activity. Further, the mode of processing of the silk protein into the films could be correlated to the stability of the enzymes. The relationship between processing and stability offers a large suite of conditions within which to optimize such stabilization processes. Overall, the techniques reported here result in materials that stabilize enzymes to an extent, without the need for cryoprotectants, emulsifiers, covalent immobilization, or other treatments. Further, these systems are amenable to optical applications and characterization, environmental distribution without refrigeration, are ingestible, and offer potential use in vivo, because silk materials are biocompatible and FDA approved, degradable with proteases, and currently used in biomedical devices.

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