Engineering group develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels

HKU Mechanical Engineering team develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels
Fabrication strategy of the anisotropic tendon-mimetic hydrogel. Credit score: The College of Hong Kong

Repairing or changing injured tendons or related load-bearing tissues represents one of many main challenges in medical medication. Pure tendons are water-rich tissues exhibiting excellent mechanical power and sturdiness. Their mechanical properties originate from subtle microscale constructions involving stiff collagen fibrils aligned in parallel and interlaced with gentle 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 copy the constructions and properties of pure tendons. It stays troublesome since artificial hydrogels are often weak and brittle. Resolving this mismatch would allow essential functions in tissue restore, biomedical robots, implantable units, and plenty of different applied sciences.

A analysis group led by Dr. Lizhi Xu of the Division of Mechanical Engineering within the College 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 blended 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 in keeping with the route of stretching, resulting in an anisotropic community mimicking the structural options of pure tendons.

The interactions between the stiff nanofibers and gentle polymers additional confer excessive mechanical toughness on the composites. This hydrogel consists of 60% water whereas exhibiting a wonderful Younger’s modulus of ~1 GPa and power of ~80 MPa, outperforming different artificial hydrogels by orders of magnitude. The floor of the hydrogels might be additional functionalised for guiding the behaviors of cells or integrating with gentle 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 gentle digital sensors, offering essential capabilities for tissue restore and implantable medical units.”

Extra info:
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 group develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels (2023, April 22)
retrieved 23 April 2023

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