Hydrogels and Polymeric Biomaterials

Polymeric biomaterials have become an integral part of the biomedical arena, with applications ranging from the basic (blood bags and catheters) to the complex (tissue engineering scaffolds and drug delivery devices).

Their biocompatibility and tuneable properties make them hugely versatile substrates that can be used to address even the most niche of criteria. With millions of monomer combinations possible, it is necessary to take a high-throughput approach to identify their best suited application.

The polymer microarray developed at the Bradley Research group is the ideal tool to address this. Using either contact or inkjet printing, microarrays containing several thousands of polymer features can be fabricated. These are then interrogated with biological material and evaluated for promising interactions using fluorescent microscopy.

Current research within our group focuses on developing three-dimensional polymeric substrates for use in biomedical applications.

Currently two-dimensional substrates, as used in cell culturing, have limited biomedical applications due to their lack of mechanical properties. Therefore there is a need to develop 3D substrates for cell culture and maintenance. These substrates should be biocompatible, perfusable and mimic the in vivo environment. Hydrogels, hydrated and cross-linked polymeric networks, are promising materials for use as 3D polymeric scaffolds.

Current projects are based on the development of hydrogels with varying compositions and the evaluation of printing strategies to control the hydrogel geometry.

HumEn (http://www.hum-en.eu/) - funded by the European Union

The Bradley group are world leaders in polymer microarray technology using this to discover new materials that control and modulate cellular behaviour and function.


More information

• The synthesis and screening of polymer libraries using a high throughput approach (Mizomoto - PhD Thesis, University of Southampton 2004)

• Using inkjet printing methodologies they pioneered the inkjet fabrication of polymer microarrays that contain over 7000 different polymers on a single glass slide (Hansen 2014 )

• The Bradley group were the first to use polymer microarray technologies to discover in a high-throughput manner materials that prevent bacterial adhesion (Pernagello 2011 ) and which have also been used as bacterial repellent coatings for medical devices (Venkateswaran 2014 )
 

We have used this technology to discover materials that:

• Control bone repair (Khan 2013 )

• Allow mild stem cell harvesting (Zhang 2013 )

• Facilitate parasite removal from water (Wu 2012 )

• We have a large activity that focuses on developing three-dimensional polymeric substrates for use in biomedical applications. These substrates should be biocompatible, perfusable and mimic the in vivo environment. Hydrogels, hydrated and cross-linked polymeric networks, are promising materials for use as 3D polymeric scaffolds.

• Current projects are based on the development of hydrogels with varying compositions and the evaluation of printing strategies to control the hydrogel geometry.

Contact Printing

Inject Printing

Microsquisher

Collaborations

We collaborate with numerous groups in this area – including the groups of:

• Danish Stem Cell Centre (Prof Josh Brickman and Anne Bolton)
• Granada University (Prof Pedro Real Luna)
• Tokyo Medical and Dental University (Prof Tetsuya Taga), Japan
• Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine (Dr Paul DeSousa).
• Bone & Joint Research Group, Southampton University (Proffesor Ricahard Oreffo)
• Centro Cardiologico Monzino, Milan, (Proessor Maurizio Pesce)

Recent Publications in this area

Long term mesenchymal stem cell culture on a defined synthetic substrate with enzyme free passaging, Duffy, C. R. E., Zhang, R., How, S-E., Lilienkampf, A., De Sousa, P. A. & Bradley, M.
Jul 2014 In: Biomaterials. 35, 23, p. 5998-6005 8 p.

A thermoresponsive and chemically defined hydrogel for long-term culture of human embryonic stem cells, Zhang, R., Mjoseng, H. K., Hoeve, M. A., Bauer, N. G., Pells, S., Besseling, R., Velugotla, S., Tourniaire, G., Kishen, R. E. B., Tsenkina, Y., Armit, C., Duffy, C. R. E., Helfen, M., Edenhofer, F., de Sousa, P. A. & Bradley, M.
Jan 2013 In: Nature Communications. 2013, 4, 1335

Funding

• We are supported by an ERC Advanced grant (ADREEM) and a FP7 project grant HumEn. (http://www.hum-en.eu/) - funded by the European Union and the BBSRC.

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