Engineering team develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels

Fabrication technique of the anisotropic tendon-mimetic hydrogel. Credit score: The College of Hong Kong

Repairing or changing injured tendons or comparable load-bearing tissues represents one of many main challenges in scientific drugs. Pure tendons are water-rich tissues exhibiting excellent mechanical energy and sturdiness. Their mechanical properties originate from subtle microscale constructions involving stiff collagen fibrils aligned in parallel and interlaced with mushy water-retaining biopolymers.

Over the previous many years, researchers have been attempting to make use of artificial hydrogels, a category of water-rich supplies involving polymer networks, to duplicate the constructions and properties of pure tendons. It stays tough since artificial hydrogels are often weak and brittle. Resolving this mismatch would allow vital functions in tissue restore, biomedical robots, implantable gadgets, and plenty of different applied sciences.

A analysis staff led by Dr. Lizhi Xu of the Division of Mechanical Engineering within the School of Engineering on the College of Hong Kong (HKU) has developed a brand new sort of tendon-mimetic hydrogel with excellent mechanical properties matching these of pure tendons mixed with multifunctionalities for biomedical functions.

The analysis was printed in Science Advances, in an article entitled “Multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels.” The analysis was additionally featured in Nature as a Analysis Spotlight.

On this examine, aramid nanofibers derived from Kevlar, a polymer materials utilized in bullet-proof vests and helmets, had been combined with polyvinyl alcohol, one other artificial polymer, for the development of tendon-mimetic hydrogels. With tensile stress utilized through the fabrication course of, aramid nanofibers aligned with one another based on the route of stretching, resulting in an anisotropic community mimicking the structural options of pure tendons.

The interactions between the stiff nanofibers and mushy polymers additional confer excessive mechanical toughness on the composites. This hydrogel consists of 60% water whereas displaying a wonderful Younger’s modulus of ~1 GPa and energy of ~80 MPa, outperforming different artificial hydrogels by orders of magnitude. The floor of the hydrogels may be additional functionalised for steering the behaviors of cells or integrating with mushy bioelectronic sensors.

“We developed a biomimetic supplies platform for superior biomedical functions. The supplies constructing blocks captured many structural options of pure tendons, resulting in superb properties which are inaccessible with different artificial hydrogels,” mentioned Dr. Xu, including that “these hydrogels will not be solely mechanically robust but in addition functionalised with bioactive molecules and mushy digital sensors, offering vital capabilities for tissue restore and implantable medical gadgets.”

Extra data:
Mingze Solar et al, Multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels, Science Advances (2023). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.ade6973

Nature Analysis Spotlight:

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The College of Hong Kong

Engineering staff develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels (2023, April 22)
retrieved 22 April 2023

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