Diversification and enrichment of clinical biomaterials inspired by Darwinian evolution

D. W. Green, G. S. Watson, J. A. Watson, D. J. Lee, J. M. Lee, H. S. Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Regenerative medicine and biomaterials design are driven by biomimicry. There is the essential requirement to emulate human cell, tissue, organ and physiological complexity to ensure long-lasting clinical success. Biomimicry projects for biomaterials innovation can be re-invigorated with evolutionary insights and perspectives, since Darwinian evolution is the original dynamic process for biological organisation and complexity. Many existing human inspired regenerative biomaterials (defined as a nature generated, nature derived and nature mimicking structure, produced within a biological system, which can deputise for, or replace human tissues for which it closely matches) are without important elements of biological complexity such as, hierarchy and autonomous actions. It is possible to engineer these essential elements into clinical biomaterials via bioinspired implementation of concepts, processes and mechanisms played out during Darwinian evolution; mechanisms such as, directed, computational, accelerated evolutions and artificial selection contrived in the laboratory. These dynamos for innovation can be used during biomaterials fabrication, but also to choose optimal designs in the regeneration process. Further evolutionary information can help at the design stage; gleaned from the historical evolution of material adaptations compared across phylogenies to changes in their environment and habitats. Taken together, harnessing evolutionary mechanisms and evolutionary pathways, leading to ideal adaptations, will eventually provide a new class of Darwinian and evolutionary biomaterials. This will provide bioengineers with a more diversified and more efficient innovation tool for biomaterial design, synthesis and function than currently achieved with synthetic materials chemistry programmes and rational based materials design approach, which require reasoned logic. It will also inject further creativity, diversity and richness into the biomedical technologies that we make. All of which are based on biological principles. Such evolution-inspired biomaterials have the potential to generate innovative solutions, which match with existing bioengineering problems, in vital areas of clinical materials translation that include tissue engineering, gene delivery, drug delivery, immunity modulation, and scar-less wound healing. Statement of Significance Evolution by natural selection is a powerful generator of innovations in molecular, materials and structures. Man has influenced evolution for thousands of years, to create new breeds of farm animals and crop plants, but now molecular and materials can be molded in the same way. Biological molecules and simple structures can be evolved, literally in the laboratory. Furthermore, they are re-designed via lessons learnt from evolutionary history. Through a 3-step process to (1) create variants in material building blocks, (2) screen the variants with beneficial traits/properties and (3) select and support their self-assembly into usable materials, improvements in design and performance can emerge. By introducing biological molecules and small organisms into this process, it is possible to make increasingly diversified, sophisticated and clinically relevant materials for multiple roles in biomedicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-45
Number of pages13
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 15

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Acta Materialia Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Diversification and enrichment of clinical biomaterials inspired by Darwinian evolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this