Hélène Van Den Berghe

Hélène Van Den Berghe

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montpellier

Hélène graduated in Organic Chemistry at the Universtiy of Montpellier (France). She completed her PhD in 2007 under the supervision of Pr J. Coudane in the Artificial Biopolymers Department of IBMM in Montpellier, working on the synthesis of biodegradable polymers for tissue engineering and sustained drug release applications. She then joined the group of Pr Rachel Auzély in the CERMAV (Grenoble, France) as a post-doc to work on the chemical modifications of polysaccharides. Hélène moved to England in 2010 in the Dove group at the Warwick University before moving at the University of Lille (France) to work as a post-doctoral fellow with Pr Bernard Martel developing multi-drug stents based on polysaccharide layer-by-layer assemblies. In 2011, she became Associate Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy of Montpellier in the Artificial Biopolymers Department of IBMM. Her research is dedicated to the synthesis and chemical modification of synthetic and natural biodegradable polymers for biomedical applications including : nano-systems for anti-cancer drug release, anti-adhesive polymeric membranes for orthopedic surgery, synthesis of amphiphilic copolymers for environnemental applications.   



5 recent publications:


Preliminary in vivo study of biodegradable PLA-PEU-PLA anti-adhesion membranes in a rat Achilles tendon model of peritendinous adhesions

BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE 2022,10, 1776-1786

Hadda, Zebiri, Van Den Berghe Helene, Paunet Tom, Wolf-Mandroux Aurelie, Bethry Audrey, Taillades Hubert, Yohan Jean Noel, Yohan Jean Noël, Nelly Pirot, Botteron Catherine, Chammas Michel, Chammas Pierre-Emmanuel and Garric Xavier



Peritendinous adhesions are complications known to occur up to 6 weeks after surgery and cause chronic pain and disability. Anti-adhesion barriers are currently the best option for prevention. In a previous study, we designed two biodegradable membranes, D-PACO1 and D-PACO2, based on new triblock copolymers and conducted in vitro evaluations. The membranes maintained filmogenic integrity, had degradation rates that promoted anti-adhesion and were biocompatible, suggesting their safe and effective use as anti-adhesion devices. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a preliminary in vivo study in a rat model of peritendinous adhesions and evaluated the membranes’ degradation rates, tendon healing and anti-adhesion effect compared to non-surgical and surgical control groups 2 and 10 weeks after surgery. Macroscopic evaluation showed membranes were effective in reducing the extent and severity of adhesions. Membranes acted as physical barriers at 2 weeks and underwent a complete or significant biodegradation at 10 weeks. D-PACO2 had a longer degradation rate compared to D-PACO1, was more effective in reducing adhesions and is expected to be more effective in promoting tendon healing. The tendency of D-PACO1 to promote tendon healing while D-PACO2 did not interfere with healing highlights the need to redesign the porosity of the D-PACO membranes for optimal nutrient diffusion, while maintaining their anti-adhesion effect and clinical usability. Preliminary findings revealed that adhesions form beyond the 6 weeks cited in the literature. In this study, adhesion formation continued for up to 10 weeks, underlining the need to increase the experimental period and sample size of future experiments evaluating anti-adhesion membranes.

Syntheses of biodegradable graft copolymers from sodium caseinate and poly 3 -caprolactone or poly lactic acid. Applications to the compatibilization of sodium caseinate/polyester blends

Materials Today Chemistry 27 (2023) 101345

L.Viora, T. Tichané, A. Taguet, X. Garric, J. Coudane, H. Van Den Berghe


Casein (and its sodium salt, sodium caseinate, SC) is an inexpensive natural milk protein that is used as a biodegradable biomaterial, especially to produce packaging films. However, to enhance some of its properties, it needs to be blended with other polymers, which should preferably be biodegradable such as poly lactic acid (PLA) and poly ε-caprolactone (PCL). New SC-g-PLA and SC-g-PCL graft copolymers have been prepared and unambiguously characterized, in particular by 1H and DOSY NMR. The grafting degrees are high (between 24 and 35% by weight) and result in variations of properties, such as hydrophobicity and thermal properties. The microstructures of SC/PLA and SC/PCL blends were studied and compared, with and without the addition of the SC-g-PLA and SC-g-PCL copolymers to test the compatibilization capacity of these new biodegradable copolymers.

Chemical modification of edible sodium caseinate: A new grafting method of oleic acid. Characterization and thermal properties of the conjugate

Food Chemistry  Volume 408, 15 May 2023, 135140

Teddy Tichané, Laurianne Viora, Xavier Garric, Emmanuel Klem-Robin, Jean Coudane, Hélène Van Den Berghe


Sodium caseinate is a well-known amphiphilic protein derived from natural products currently used for the preparation of edible films. To improve some properties, especially to decrease the hydrophilicity and water solubility of the caseinate, the covalent grafting of a hydrophobic edible fatty acid, namely oleic acid, onto caseinate, appears to be a solution. We describe a new synthesis method for the chemical modification of sodium caseinate involving the synthesis of an acid chloride derivative from oleic acid and a phase transfer catalysis reaction in a biphasic medium. Under these conditions, free amine and alcohol groups of the caseinate are likely to be grafted with a fairly high (>50 %) substitution degree. The caseinate derivative is finely characterized, in particular by DOSY NMR, to assess the formation of a casein/oleic acid grafted compound as well as the absence of residual oleic acid.

Poly(ε-caprolactone)-Based Graft Copolymers: Synthesis Methods and Applications in the Biomedical Field: A Review

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Molecules 27, 7339 (2022)

 Jean Coudane, Benjamin Nottelet, Julia Mouton, Xavier Garric, Hélène Van Den Berghe


Synthetic biopolymers are attractive alternatives to biobased polymers, especially because they rarely induce an immune response in a living organism. Poly ε-caprolactone (PCL) is a well-known synthetic aliphatic polyester universally used for many applications, including biomedical and environmental ones. Unlike poly lactic acid (PLA), PCL has no chiral atoms, and it is impossible to play with the stereochemistry to modify its properties. To expand the range of applications for PCL, researchers have investigated the possibility of grafting polymer chains onto the PCL backbone. As the PCL backbone is not functionalized, it must be first functionalized in order to be able to graft reactive groups onto the PCL chain. These reactive groups will then allow the grafting of new reagents and especially new polymer chains. Grafting of polymer chains is mainly carried out by “grafting from” or “grafting onto” methods. In this review we describe the main structures of the graft copolymers produced, their different synthesis methods, and their main characteristics and applications, mainly in the biomedical field.