Biomaterials Design

Minimally Invasive 3D Cryogel Scaffolds

Hydrogels are a class of highly hydrated polymeric materials used in the biomedical field due to their unique properties such as high water content, softness, flexibility, and biocompatibility. Recently, we have developed mechanically robust and syringe-injectable biomimetic cryogels. These cryogels form a new class of polymeric hydrogels with unique properties including large and interconnected pores, mechanical robustness, and injectability with shape memory properties.

Injectable cryogel scaffolds have great applicability in tissue engineering as biomimetic 3D scaffolds, drug/cell delivery, and cancer immunotherapy. The cryogels can be made up of a variety of synthetic polymers or naturally derived polymers such as gelatin, hyaluronic acid, alginate.

Antimicrobial Biomaterials

Biomaterials have revolutionized the field of regenerative medicine. However, they can be associated with introduction of foreign material into the body, which is prone to attachment, colonization and infection by bacterial pathogens. There are many hospital borne pathogens which have developed resistance to existing antibiotics. If in case the patient catches such infection, it is likely pose severe threat. So it is imperative to make the insertion material resistant to bacterial infection. We are working on several approaches to impart antimicrobial character to our biomaterials.

Bioadhesive Preformed Injectable Scaffolds

A key aspect of tissue engineering is the use of a minimally invasive scaffold, or three-dimensional biomaterial that houses cells and provides biochemical cues to promote the formation of new tissues. However, for certain applications, success of a tissue engineering strategy depends on having a scaffold that adheres with adjacent tissue, anchoring it in place, and thereby potentially improving outcomes. Such integration may be achieved with the use of bioinspired bioadhesive polymers that covalently bonds with tissues in a wet environment.

We aim to design and characterize a bioadhesive yet injectable 3D biomimetic macroporous polymer scaffolds so that, in addition to bonding with tissue, it can support cell survival and differentiation post-adhesion with surrounding tissue and control the spatiotemporal release of biomolecules. This work will have therapeutic potential for several tissue engineering applications, such as soft tissue repair and healing.

Smart and Robust Biomaterials

The development of biologically-inspired scaffolds are increasingly being explored for biomedical applications. Our research is focused on the development of an injectable cryogel prepared by environmentally friendly cryotropic gelation of naturally sourced polymer such as natural polysaccharide (e.g. hyaluronic acid, alginate) or proteins (e.g. gelatin, collagen). These cryogels have an interconnected macroporous architecture, a structure which has been demonstrated to facilitate cellular infiltration and trafficking better than conventional hydrogel scaffolds. These injectable cryogels provide an ideal microenvironment for cell adhesion, proliferation process, cellular regeneration, and functional recovery. Moreover, they have been shown to protect loaded protein drugs and cells under adverse conditions.

We understand that the design of the biomaterial is very important and can be customized depending on the application. The morphology, size and shape can enhance and improve mechanical properties, injectability with shape memory properties, physical properties, and intrinsic biological properties.

3D Printed Hydrogels with Controlled Microstucture

The development of biologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) tissue constructs is essential for the alternative methods of organ transplantation in regenerative medicine, as well as the development of improved drug discovery assays. Recent technological advances in hydrogel microfabrication, such as 3D bioprinting have led to the production of 3D tissue constructs that exhibit biological functions with precise 3D microstructures.

We recently developped 3D printed perfusable hydrogels with controlled multicompartimental microachitecture and defined biomimetic properties.