Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Injectable and Self-integrating Hydrogels

Technology #5933

Injectable hydrogels that can encapsulate pharmaceuticals or regenerative cells allow for the delivery of active biological species directly to a target area. These materials have potential to aid in next generation drug delivery and tissue engineering procedures such as the sustained release of hormonal medication or less invasive tissue regeneration techniques. Biocompatible hydrogels developed at the University of Michigan have been shown to both easily incorporate a range of biologics and exhibit shear-thinning properties making them candidate materials for both drug delivery and tissue regeneration applications. These materials have also demonstrated a unique self-healing property allowing hydrogels with different active species to be adhered to each other in novel geometries without the use of external stimuli. These types of enabling materials for advanced medical care can have a significant impact on the markets for drug delivery products and tissue engineering. An aging population has led to significant growth in the US markets for drug delivery products and tissue engineering products which currently exceed $105 billion and $30 billion respectively.

Injectable Hydrogels for Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a novel, biocompatible hydrogel that can encapsulate specific proteins and cells for use in drug delivery and tissue engineering. This new material is mechanically tough upon gelation but becomes fluid when pressure is applied allowing it to be injected like a liquid directly to a target area. The hydrogels have also been shown to rapidly self-integrate without external stimuli which allows for gels which contain different active molecules to be connected in customizable shapes and geometries. This technology could enable the reconstruction of multicomponent tissues in the body using less invasive surgery procedures or act as carrier material for sustained release medication to treat chronic medical problems such as hormonal imbalances.

Applications

  • Drug delivery
  • Tissue repair and regeneration
  • Multiple tissue scaffolding
  • Wound treatment

Advantages

  • High accuracy and precision
  • Controlled geometry of gels
  • Possibility of incorporating multiple biologics into single product
  • Drug delivery rates can be controlled through polymer design