NUS researchers have discovered a method to fabricate a biologic interpenetrating network (IPN) hydrogel using applied rheology.
Hydrogels are three-dimensional networks of crosslinked polymers. However, current hydrogel wound dressings are made up of synthetic polymers that are biologically inert and do not drive hosts’ biology toward wound healing. Such treatment modality is particularly paradoxical for severe wounds where exogeneous mediators are critical for regeneration. Recently, the incorporation of stem cells has been proposed to confer inert dressings with biologic properties. The cells possess the ability to release paracrine wound-healing factors and differentiate into multiple skin cell types to replace lost tissues. In order to replicate aspects of the stem cells’ native extracellular matrix (ECM) environment, researchers are turning to natural polymers that are more cytocompatible.
Sourcing from nature’s repository, gellan gum, which is an exopolysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Sphingomonas elodea, is gaining recognition for its FDA GRAS and high-yield production status. Although it forms hydrogels readily under physiological conditions, gellan gum lacks cell adhesion moiety to effectively house stem cells. This can be overcome by incorporating a secondary collagen polymer network to confer gellan gum hydrogels with cell adhesivity. (Read more)