September 25, 2023
HKU Mechanical 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 refined microscale buildings involving stiff collagen fibrils aligned in parallel and interlaced with delicate water-retaining biopolymers.

Over the previous many years, researchers have been making an attempt to make use of artificial hydrogels, a category of water-rich supplies involving polymer networks, to copy the buildings and properties of pure tendons. It stays tough since artificial hydrogels are often weak and brittle. Resolving this mismatch would allow important purposes in tissue restore, biomedical robots, implantable gadgets, and lots of different applied sciences.

A analysis workforce 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 kind of tendon-mimetic hydrogel with excellent mechanical properties matching these of pure tendons mixed with multifunctionalities for biomedical purposes.

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

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

The interactions between the stiff nanofibers and delicate 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 energy of ~80 MPa, outperforming different artificial hydrogels by orders of magnitude. The floor of the hydrogels could be additional functionalised for steering the behaviors of cells or integrating with delicate bioelectronic sensors.

“We developed a biomimetic supplies platform for superior biomedical purposes. The supplies constructing blocks captured many structural options of pure tendons, resulting in wonderful properties which might be inaccessible with different artificial hydrogels,” mentioned Dr. Xu, including that “these hydrogels usually are not solely mechanically robust but additionally functionalised with bioactive molecules and delicate digital sensors, offering important 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 workforce develops multifunctional tendon-mimetic hydrogels (2023, April 22)
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