Development of novel biomaterials based on Low-Molecular-Weight Hydrogelators
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Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine represent a great challenge for biomedical research as they require novel materials to repair damaged tissues or organs. Among the numerous biomaterials developed so far hydrogels show a potential for the application in biomedical field. Nowadays the challenge is to develop novel, biocompatible hydrogelators in which functionalization and tuning of the properties can be easily achieved. Molecular self-assembly is a simple and efficient way to fabricate complex nanostructures as hydrogels with tunable properties. In this project I’ll approach to non-covalently-assembled hydrogels called Low-molecular-weight hydrogelators (LMWHs). These systems are able to respond to external stimuli in compatibility with biological environments. This responsiveness is similar to the ability of natural ECMs to undergo dynamic remodelling in response to biological stimuli. Initially an overview on hydrogels, mainly focused on synthetic LMWHs, and their application in tissue engineering will be discussed. Chapter 2 will focus on the development of a rational design and synthesis of a range of potential hydrogelators composed of a hydrophobic, aromatic moiety, a maleimide linker, and a hydrophilic section based on an amino acids bearing a cysteine. 4 Characterization of the gelation properties of newly synthetized materials will be reported in Chapter 3. In particular the aim project will be the formation of gels under pseudo physiological conditions and their macroscopic and microscopic characterizations. Finally in chapter 4 toxicity studies will be carried out to ensure that the materials are biocompatible. Tests of biocompatibility of the newly synthetized scaffolds will be performed using the COS-7 cell line in 2D and 3D environments. Growth and proliferation of cells on these novel scaffolds will be compared to the performance on natural collagen. Finally future works for further the applications of newly synthetized scaffolds will be discussed and keys issues will be addressed.
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