‘…Before our work, no injectable hydrogels possessed both high porosity and toughness at the same time. To solve this issue we introduced a pore-forming polymer to our formula.’
Researchers from Canada’s McGill University, in Montreal, have developed a biomaterial which they say has properties making it suitable to repair heart, muscle and vocal cord tissue. Combing expertise from chemistry, physics, biology and engineering, the researchers say that the material represents ‘a major advance in regenerative medicine.’
The team explains that the healing of organs, such as the heart or vocal cords, can be challenging because any tissue is in constant movement, and there were no injectable materials suitable for the task. However, a new injectable hydrogel provides room for cells to grow, say the researchers. Once in the body the hydrogel forms a stable porous structure allowing live cells to pass through to repair injured organs.
The strength of the new biomaterial was tested in machine developed to simulate the biomechanics of human vocal cords. Vibrating at 120 times a second for more than six million cycles, the biomaterial remained intact. Standard hydrogels were found to fracture, being unable to deal with the stress of the load.
Guangyu Bao, PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, McGill University said; ‘We were incredibly excited to see it worked perfectly in our test. Before our work, no injectable hydrogels possessed both high porosity and toughness at the same time. To solve this issue we introduced a pore-forming polymer to our formula.’
The research team says that their innovation opens up the possibility for other applications such as drug delivery, tissue engineering and creation of model tissues for drug screening. Professor Jianyu Li, Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials and Musculoskeletal Health added; ‘Our work highlights the synergy of materials science, mechanical engineering and bioengineering in creating novel biomaterials with unprecedented performance.’