Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biomedical uses for hydrogels explored

Date:
July 5, 2013
Source:
University of Akron
Summary:
Scientists are researching hydrogel, the gelatinous substance that, because of its toughness and plasticity, has several biomedical applications, including cartilage repair, implants for minimally invasive surgery and drug delivery.

Agar/PAM DN hydrogels show extraordinary mechanical and free-shapeable properties: (a) bending; (b) knotting; (c) compression; (d) (stretching); (e) hexagon; (f) teddy bear gel under compression; and (g) teddy bear gel after force release.
Credit: Qiang Chen and Chao Zhao

It's squishy, synthetic, flexible, mostly water and almost as tough as rubber.

No, it's not "flubber" -- it's a hydrogel, and now scientists at The University of Akron are exploring new biomedical uses for this polymer-based product.

Dr. Jie Zheng, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Dr. Robert Weiss, Hezzleton E. Simmons professor and chair of polymer engineering, are among the most recent to contribute to the growing research of hydrogels, the gelatinous substance that, because of its toughness and plasticity, has several biomedical applications, including cartilage repair, implants for minimally invasive surgery and drug delivery.

Simplifying production process

Since, as Zheng says, "all existing methods to prepare double-network hydrogels involve multiple-step processes, which are tedious and time-consuming," Zheng and his team developed a simple, efficient and one-pot method (in which reactions occur in one as opposed to several pots) to synthesize double-network hydrogels -- that is, hydrogels composed of two networks of polymer chains, one rigid, the other ductile.

Zheng not only made the synthesis of these hydrogels more efficient -- he also made the hydrogels tougher.

Most hydrogels are weak and brittle, "suffering from low mechanical strength, poor toughness, and/or limited extensibility and recoverability," Zheng says.

His hydrogels, however, "exhibit high mechanical properties, excellent recoverable properties, and a unique, free-shapeable property," he says, making them promising replacements for load-bearing soft tissues like cartilage, tendon, muscle and blood vessels.

Weiss also has synthesized a tougher brand of hydrogel, a "shape memory hydrogel," which can be bent and stretched and fixed into temporary shapes. When exposed to an external stimulus, such as temperature, light, moisture, or an electric field, shape memory polymers recover their original, permanent shape.

Useful shape-shifters

Weiss's shape memory hydrogels are thermally actuated, meaning they stretch and change shape when heated, and they retain this temporary shape when cooled.

Biocompatible, shape memory hydrogels have the potential to be used for minimally invasive surgery and drug delivery, Weiss says.

"Shape memory may be useful for deployment of hydrogels in biomedical applications using less invasive methods ... for example, one can implant a compact form of the device that would deploy into the usable shape after it is implanted," he says.

For example, a small form of the shape memory hydrogel may be inserted into the body, where, upon absorbing bodily fluids, it expands into the desired shape of the implant, thus filling a wound or replacing tissue.

The permeable hydrogels can also be loaded with drugs and placed into the body, where the sponge-like gel biodegrades and releases the drugs from its pores.

Weiss and co-author Jinkun Hao published their findings, "Mechanically Tough, Thermally Activated Shape Memory Hydrogels," on Jan. 7, 2013, in ACS Macro Letters.

Zheng's method has received provisional approval for a patent, and his paper, "A Robust, One-Pot Synthesis of Highly Mechanical and Recoverable Double-Network Hydrogels Using Thermo-Reversible Sol-Gel Polysaccharide," co-authored by Zheng and his UA research colleagues, Qiang Chen, Lin Zhu, Chao Zhao and Qiuming Wang, was published June 14, 2013, online in Advanced Materials.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Akron. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Qiang Chen, Lin Zhu, Chao Zhao, Qiuming Wang, Jie Zheng. A Robust, One-Pot Synthesis of Highly Mechanical and Recoverable Double Network Hydrogels Using Thermoreversible Sol-Gel Polysaccharide. Advanced Materials, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/adma.201300817
  2. Jinkun Hao, R. A. Weiss. Mechanically Tough, Thermally Activated Shape Memory Hydrogels. ACS Macro Letters, 2013; 2 (1): 86 DOI: 10.1021/mz3006389

Cite This Page:

University of Akron. "Biomedical uses for hydrogels explored." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705212234.htm>.
University of Akron. (2013, July 5). Biomedical uses for hydrogels explored. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705212234.htm
University of Akron. "Biomedical uses for hydrogels explored." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705212234.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins