(426a) Photoreversible Stiffness Modulation of Protein-Polymer Hydrogels
Polymer-based hydrogels have emerged as a powerful class of biomaterials that enable cells to be cultured in 3D within near-physiological, synthetic microenvironments. Recognizing that biology is neither homogenous nor static, we have developed unique strategies that permit reversible and user-defined modulation of gel properties in the presence of live cells. As our employed methods are photochemical in nature, hydrogel alteration can be performed at any point in time and 3D space (i.e., 4D) through directed light exposure. In this presentation, I will detail our recent efforts in the development of photoresponsive protein-polymer hydrogels whose local stiffness can be fully dynamically and reversibly, thereby capturing the biophysical changes that often accompany disease and healing. By recapitulating the dynamic heterogeneity of native tissue within well-defined polymer-based culture platforms, we believe that our efforts will be useful in probing 4D cell fate decisions and in the engineering of complex multicellular functional tissues.