(251m) Nano-Templated Agarose-Gels for Tissue Scaffolds: Preliminary Synthesis and Characterization of Internal Structure and Transport Behavior

Authors: 
Wagle, D., Tennessee Tech University
Arce, P. E., Tennessee Technological University
Sanders, J. R., Tennessee Technological University
Hydrogel scaffolds have tremendous applications in the field of healthcare engineering including such areas as tissue engineering and controlled transport of drug and cell therapies. Their extremely high hydrophilicity and permeability to solutes through their porous structure makes these materials excellent choices for development. Tissue engineering, in particular, is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field of regenerative medicine that aims at a development of biological substitutes to restore, maintain, and improve impaired tissue functioning. Agarose gel-based scaffolds are excellent potential candidates for this purpose. This biomaterial can be fabricated, modified, or incorporated with other materials to achieve and enhance desired transport and mechanical properties. In this research project, we are focused on the manufacturing and characterization of transport performance of nano-templated gels based on agarose. More specifically, we are interested in determining the influence of modifying the gel microstructure on the rate of solute (nutrient) transport by placing and subsequently removing templates before completing transport studies. The core techniques to change the internal structure of these hydrogels are: (1) changing the concentration of agarose and (2) incorporating suitable nano- or micro- sized templating agents during polymerization. Towards this end, microstructure modifiers (e.g., nano-particles) will be incorporated and transport is examined in the absence or presence of applied electrical fields induced by running gel electrophoresis for modified and standard agarose gels. Ultimately, gel-electrophoresis is performed for studying electro kinetic rates of nutrient transport. Thermal techniques (e.g., thermal gravimetric analysis and differential scanning calorimetry) and electron microscopy (e.g., transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy) are the instrumental techniques being examined for characterization of internal structures such as porosity, pore shape, and size distribution. The goal is to produce agarose-based hydrogels with optimal properties to achieve desired transport and mechanical properties.