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PhD Defence Jia Liang | Hybrid hydrogels based on gelatin methacrylate

Hybrid hydrogels based on gelatin methacrylate

Due to the COVID-19 crisis the PhD defence of Jia Liang will take place (partly) online.

The PhD defence can be followed by a live stream.

Jia Liang is a PhD student in the research group Biomaterials Science and Technology (BST). Her supervisors are Prof. dr. D.W. Grijpma and Dr. A.A. Poot from the Faculty of Science and Technology (S&T).

A series of studies described in her thesis were directed towards the development of different types of materials to be used in the development of biodegradable scaffolds applicable in tissue regeneration. As a basis for our studies, we used the widely studied natural polymer gelatin. Gelatin is well known for its gelling properties at low temperatures. It is a natural polymer derived from collagen type I, the main protein in the human body. It has excellent bio-adhesive properties, is biocompatible, but is enzymatically degraded within hours in the human body, making this material less suitable for tissue regeneration purposes. We combined gelatin with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), a water soluble polymer of synthetic origin, into different types of networks. Gelatin as well as the PEG were functionalized with methacrylic groups to allow combined photo-crosslinking into hybrid hydrogels with both good mechanical and biological properties. On the other hand, we developed a novel method to prepare interpenetrating networks of gelatin and PEG by combining photo-crosslinking and enzymatic crosslinking. To evaluate the potential applications of these hybrid materials, the cytocompatibility as well as manufacturing of temporary implantable devices by 3D printing were investigated.

Combining gelatin with synthetic biodegradable polymers, generally much more hydrophobic, is challenging. In the past decades much expertise was gained within the research group on the synthesis and properties of poly(trimethylene carbonate) (PTMC). PTMC is biocompatible, biodegradable as well as flexible and has elastic properties, making it highly suitable for the manufacturing of scaffolds. Combining these properties with the properties of gelatin in hybrid photo-crosslinked networks we aimed to manufacture functional constructs. In this respect, we investigated electrospinning as a reliable and mature technology to fabricate nanometer to micrometer scaled fibers that can be assembled into highly porous scaffolds.