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Ph. D candidate, University of Alberta


An injectable, self-healing hydrogel for 3D cell encapsulation and hemostasis

Traffic accident, earthquake and warfare always cause severe injury and bleeding. However, the body is unable to control massive hemorrhage without treatment, especially, internal noncompressible hemorrhage remains a significant cause of preventable death. Nearly half of people die before arriving at an emergency center due to excessive blood loss, so rapid and effective hemostatic methods are essential to save a life. Here, we designed a new type of injectable hemostatic hydrogels by cross-linking biodegradable carboxymethyl chitosan (CMC) using benzaldehyde-terminated telechelic four-armed polyethylene glycol (PEG-BA) as cross-linkers. The hydrogel showed fast gelation and self-healing behaviors, great injectability, strong mechanical performance, and good cytocompatibility. The separated alternate hydrogel lines connected together to become an integrated hydrogel film after 5 min at room temperature without any external intervention. This was attributed to the dynamic equilibrium between the Schiff base linkages and the aldehyde groups of PEG-BA and amine groups on CMC backbone. In vivo hemostatic tests indicated that the hydrogels could effectively stop bleeding when the hydrogel was directly injected into a rabbit liver incision. After applying hydrogel on the bleeding site, the hydrogel filled the incision and trapped blood cells between the wound interfaces. This strong physical barrier resulted in the shorter bleeding time and less blood loss compared to the traditional gauze treatment. With these superior properties, the self-healing hydrogels have great potential to be used as a novel hemostatic material.


pH-responsive self-healing injectable hydrogel based on N-carboxyethyl chitosan for hepatocellular carcinoma therapy.

Abstract: Injectable hydrogels with pH-responsiveness and self-healing ability have great potential for anti-cancer drug delivery. Herein, we developed a series of polysaccharide-based self-healing hydrogels with pH-sensitivity as drug delivery vehicles for hepatocellular carcinoma therapy. The hydrogels were prepared by using N-carboxyethyl chitosan (CEC) synthesized via Michael reaction in aqueous solution and dibenzaldehyde-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) (PEGDA). Doxorubicin (Dox), as a model of water-soluble small molecule anti-cancer drug was encapsulated into the hydrogel in situ. Self-healing behavior of the hydrogels was investigated at microscopic and macroscopic levels, and the hydrogels showed rapid self-healing performance without any external stimulus owing to the dynamic covalent Schiff-base linkage between amine groups from CEC and benzaldehyde groups from PEGDA. The chemical structures, rheological property, in vitro gel degradation, morphology, gelation time and in vitro Dox release behavior from the hydrogels were characterized. Injectability was verified by in vitro injection and in vivo subcutaneous injection in a rat. pH-responsive behavior was verified by in vitro Dox release from hydrogels in PBS solutions with different pH values. Furthermore, the activity of Dox released from hydrogel matrix was evaluated by employing human hepatocellular liver carcinoma (HepG2). Cytotoxicity test of the hydrogels using L929 cells confirmed their good cytocompatibility. Together, these pH-responsive self-healing injectable hydrogels are excellent candidates as drug delivery vehicles for liver cancer treatment. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: pH-responsive drug delivery system could release drug efficiently in targeted acid environment and minimalize the amount of drug release in normal physiological environment. pH-sensitive injectable hydrogels as smart anti-cancer drug delivery carriers show great potential application for cancer therapy. The hydrogels with self-healing property could prolong their lifetime during implantation and provide the advantage of minimally invasive surgery and high drug-loading ratio. This work reported the design of a series of pH-responsive self-healing injectable hydrogels based on N-carboxyethyl chitosan synthesized in aqueous solution and dibenzaldehyde-terminated poly(ethylene glycol) via a green approach, and demonstrated their potential as intelligent delivery vehicle of doxorubicin for hepatocellular carcinoma therapy via the pH-responsive nature of dynamic Schiff base.

Pub.: 07 Jun '17, Pinned: 27 Jun '17

Self-healing polysaccharide-based hydrogels as injectable carriers for neural stem cells.

Abstract: Self-healing injectable hydrogels can be formulated as three-dimensional carriers for the treatment of neurological diseases with desirable advantages, such as avoiding the potential risks of cell loss during injection, protecting cells from the shearing force of injection. However, the demands for biocompatible self-healing injectable hydrogels to meet above requirements and to promote the differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) into neurons remain a challenge. Herein, we developed a biocompatible self-healing polysaccharide-based hydrogel system as a novel injectable carrier for the delivery of NSCs. N-carboxyethyl chitosan (CEC) and oxidized sodium alginate (OSA) are the main backbones of the hydrogel networks, denoted as CEC-l-OSA hydrogel ("l" means "linked-by"). Owing to the dynamic imine cross-links formed by a Schiff reaction between amino groups on CEC and aldehyde groups on OSA, the hydrogel possesses the ability to self-heal into a integrity after being injected from needles under physiological conditions. The CEC-l-OSA hydrogel in which the stiffness mimicking nature brain tissues (100~1000 Pa) can be finely tuned to support the proliferation and neuronal differentiation of NSCs. The multi-functional, injectable, and self-healing CEC-l-OSA hydrogels hold great promises for NSC transplantation and further treatment of neurological diseases.

Pub.: 30 Nov '16, Pinned: 27 Jun '17