Dr. Jasmina Gačanin

Jasmina Gačanin, prize holder of Karl-von-Frisch-Preis (VBiO) and Scheffel-Preis (Literarische Gesellschaft), received her B.Sc. (2013) and M.Sc. (2015) degrees in Biochemistry, Ulm University, Germany, as a scholarship holder of the “Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes”. Following, she developed multifunctional hydrogels for medicine during her dissertation in the group of Prof. Dr. Tanja Weil at Ulm University and graduated with summa cum laude in 2020. Jasmina continued her work as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Weil at the MPI-P in Mainz as project responsible at the MPI-P, within the framework of two industrial cooperations: BMBF projects "Next Generation Injectable, Adaptive Hydrogels" (InGel-NxG) and "New bio-based rheology modifiers” (Kosmogel). In 2023, Jasmina has been appointed as a “Peretti-Schmucker Fellow”, with the position donated by The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation. The research project will address an urgent need in the treatment of skin through newly developed innovative biomaterials – hydrogel-cell formulations as living biomaterials for the next-generation treatment of skin related conditions, wound healing, or tissue engineering. In 2023, Jasmina was appointed as a group leader at MPI-P and leads the new cell-instructive materials group focusing on the development of multifunctional 3D biohybrid materials for medical applications, with focus on regenerative medicine and personal care.

Research Interests

Cell-Instructive Materials: Biohybrids for Applications in Medicine, Health Care and Personal Care

Our research focuses on multifunctional hybrid hydrogels for medicinal applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery employing various biomolecules such as proteins, peptides, and DNA. Hydrogels that instruct cellular functions to e.g., restore damaged tissue while allowing minimally invasive application and therapeutic options are in high demand in regenerative medicine. Current systems can rarely cover all highly attractive material properties required (high definition, biocompatibility, self-healing…). Considering these aspects and inspired by the complex interplay of molecules in Nature, we explore the combination of the stability of covalent bonds with the dynamic behavior introduced by supramolecular chemistry to develop cell-instructive materials that enable interactivity, responsiveness, and adaptability. Here, protein-derived backbones are especially attractive when combined with supramolecular gelators of either DNA or nanofiber-forming peptides: The resulting hydrogels demonstrate impressive material and biological properties like thixotropic behavior and biocompatibility.[1-4] While DNA programmability achieves controlled delivery of bioactive protein to e.g., control cell population[1,2], crosslinking peptide grafts facilitate gel injection to minimize damage to healthy tissue[3]. Cooperative projects with partners from industry explored the development of hydrogel platforms as novel treatment options or as bio-based rheology modifiers. Overall, a broad and interdisciplinary approach is pursued (synthesis, material characterization (e.g. rheology, cell studies, biofabrication) within fundamental research and application-oriented projects.

Key Achievements: Depsi-peptide principle for controlling structure formation in peptide nanofibrils and implementation of structural control as platform over multiple length-scales: peptides - biohybrids – hydrogels. By synthesizing self-assembling peptides as so-called Depsi-peptides, the intrinsic structure formation in solutions becomes controllable. This provides a defined chemistry as aggregation can be specifically activated.

Selected Publications

Gačanin, J., Synatschke, C. V., Weil, T.
Biomedical Applications of DNA-Based Hydrogels
Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30, 1906253.
Gačanin, J., Kovtun, A., Fischer, S., Schwager, V., Quambusch, J., Kuan, S. L., Liu, W., Boldt, F., Li, C., Yang, Z., Liu, D., Wu, Y., Weil, T., Barth, H., Ignatius, A.
Spatiotemporally Controlled Release of Rho-Inhibiting C3 Toxin from a Protein–DNA Hybrid Hydrogel for Targeted Inhibition of Osteoclast Formation and Activity
Adv. Healthcare Mater. 2017, 6, 1700392
Gačanin, J., Hedrich, J., Sieste, S., Glaßer, G., Lieberwirth, I., Schilling, C., Fischer, S., Barth, H., Knöll, B., Synatschke, C. V., Weil, T.
Autonomous Ultrafast Self‐Healing Hydrogels by pH‐Responsive Functional Nanofiber Gelators as Cell Matrices
Adv. Mater. 2019, 31, 1805044
Marco Hebel, Andreas Riegger, Maksymilian M. Zegota, Gönül Kizilsavas, Jasmina Gačanin, Michaela Pieszka, Thorsten Lückerath, Jaime A. S. Coelho, Manfred Wagner, Pedro M. P. Gois, David Y. W. Ng, and Tanja Weil
Sequence Programming with Dynamic Boronic Acid/Catechol Binary Codes
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019, 141 (36), 14026-14031
M. Pieszka, A. M. Sobota, J. Gačanin, T. Weil, D. Y. W. Ng
Orthogonally Stimulated Assembly/Disassembly of Depsipeptides by Rational Chemical Design
ChemBioChem 2019, 20, 1376
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