Advanced Organ bioengineering and Therapeutics (AOT)

Hybrid biomaterials based on natural and synthetic polymers

There is great need in biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine for biomaterials that combine the advantageous properties of natural polymers with those of synthetic materials. While synthetic polymers have tuneable chemical, physical and mechanical characteristics and can be prepared reproducibly, they lack the biological features of natural polymers that allow their interaction with the body. In this project novel biomaterials with such beneficial properties will be prepared by combining naturally occurring biomaterials such as hyaluronic acid, gelatin and (recombinant) collagen with synthetic poly(trimethylene carbonate) into a hybrid polymer network. Natural biomaterials are hydrophilic and have excellent cell-adhesive properties, while poly(trimethylene carbonate) is hydrophobic, flexible and tough.

Networks will be prepared by functionalization of the biomaterials and polymer precursors with methacrylate groups and subsequent photo-polymerization of mixtures of these macromers. For this, the biomaterials must be dissolved in a common organic solvent. Porous structures for tissue engineering applications will be prepared by a process that involves crystallization of the solvent by cooling, photo-crosslinking in the frozen state and subsequent extraction of the solvent.

The precursor materials, hybrid networks and porous structures will be characterized by a range of techniques that include NMR, gravimetric swelling, gel content determinations, and mechanical testing. The morphology of porous structures will be imaged using SEM.

Prof. D.W. Grijpma
Dr. A.A. Poot