Biomedicals create a hydrogel that intelligently degrades

The material that Rice University uses as a biostructure degrades as bone grows and replaces it

Bioengineers at Rice University have created a hydrogel that instantly transforms from liquid to semi-solid when it approaches body temperature, then degrades at the proper rate.

The gel appears very promising as a biostructure to support the growth of bone and other three-dimensional tissues in a patient's body using the patient's own cells to trigger the process.

The hydrogel, created in the laboratory of Rice bioengineer Antonios Mikos, is liquid at room temperature but, when injected into a patient, it turns into a gel that fills and stabilizes a space while natural tissue grows to replace it.

According to the Rice scientists, the new material detailed in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules takes cutting-edge research a little further.

“This study describes the development of a novel thermogelling hydrogel for the administration of stem cells that can be injected into skeletal defects in order to induce bone regeneration; and that it is degraded and eliminated from the body as new bone tissue forms and matures, ”said Mikos, the Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice.

Brendan Watson, a Rice graduate student and lead author of the study, hopes it will be possible to adjust the degradation of the material to match different bone growth rates.


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