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Smart chitosan-based hydrogels for targeted drug delivery applications

Lookup NU author(s): Nga Vo, Dr Lei HuangORCiD, Dr Henrique De Paula LemosORCiD, Emeritus Professor Andrew MellorORCiD, Dr Katarina Novakovic


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Hydrogels are three-dimensional networks that can absorb large amount of water while maintaining their distinctive structures. Smart hydrogels contain functional groups that respond to environmental factors such as pH and temperature, two variable factors in physiologic tissues. In principle, due to their responsiveness, release of drug cargo loaded within hydrogel may be directed to a tissue with distinctive pH values, making smart hydrogels promising carriers to deliver drugs in a more controlled way. Aiming to develop versatile pH-responsive hydrogels for drug delivery applications, smart pH-responsive hydrogels composed of poly ethylene glycol and genipin crosslinked chitosan were investigated as core materials. The hydrogel backbone is formed by crosslinking reaction between chitosan and genipin in the presence of poly (ethylene glycol), a non-crosslinked linear polymer, entrenched within the network. Obtained electron micrographs showed that the hydrogels offer well-defined porous structures with continuous boundaries. Achieved pores are shown to be fit for the encapsulation of bioactive material and the subsequent release in suitable solution. In agreement with previously reported studies involving chitosan, swelling behaviour of synthesised hydrogels is directly linked with protonation of amine groups in chitosan chains. Genipin and chitosan are shown to be critical variables indicating the role of crosslinking density in controlling the volume transition and drug transport within the network. Addition of poly (ethylene glycol) was shown to be beneficial for mass transfer through the matrix as it enhanced the interconnectivity of the porous structure while increasing the mechanical stability of the crosslinked networks. The rheological studies confirmed the relationship between crosslinker content and storage modulus. The in vitro toxicity test showed that increasing crosslinking density significantly improves the cell attachment to the hydrogels surface and cell viability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vo N, Huang L, De Paula Lemos H, Mellor A, Novakovic K

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Chem Eng Day UK 2019

Year of Conference: 2019

Print publication date: 08/04/2019

Acceptance date: 02/03/2019