(33d) Scalable and Tunable Synthetic Hydrogels for Use in Biomaterials Applications
Given their tunable mechanical properties and resemblance to soft tissue, hydrogels are advantageous in a wide range of biomedical applications including 3-dimensional cell culture, controlled release, and tissue engineering.1,2 Recent advances in chemistry and materials science have led to the proliferation of synthetic hydrogels with reproducible mechanical properties for biomaterials application.3 However, these systems can be difficult to implement broadly within academic and professional laboratories due to challenges associated with the synthesis, formulation, and scalability of these hydrogels and their precursors.4 Here, we aim to address some of these limitations by presenting a class of mechanically- and kinetically-tunable hydrogels whose gelation occurs at physiologically relevant temperatures without the need for initiators, specialized laboratory equipment, nor complex monomer synthesis. Specifically, our hydrogel self-assembles upon bench top mixing of commercially available small molecules with a decagram-scalable polyethylene glycol derivative. The design, synthesis, and mechanical properties of our hydrogel will be discussed alongside its application for 3-dimensional cell culture for scalable biomaterials evaluation. In doing so, we not only hope to present upon an alternative hydrogel platform for biomedical application, but also to highlight the importance of rational chemical design for the development of next generation biomaterials.
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