Nanoparticle gel technologies for biomedical applications

Renseignements sur le financement
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Type de subvention: Programme de subventions à la découverte - individuelles
  • Années: 2010/11 à 2011/12
  • Financement total: $55,820
Mots clés
Chercheur(e) principal(e)
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Sommaire du projet

Microgels are spherical gel particles which have diameters on the nanoscale and can shrink or expand in response to environmental stimuli such as temperature, pH, or the concentration of a particular chemical in the gel environment. Microgels have many advantages over hydrogels in biomedical applications, including their large surface areas, good injectability, protein-mimetic surface chemistry, and fast responses to environmental stimuli. However, most microgels are not biodegradable and can accumulate in the body over time; furthermore, microgels are very mobile within the body, generally leading to rapid sequestering of gel nanoparticles in the spleen or the liver. The proposed research aims to address these two challenges by developing novel approaches for synthesizing and delivering microgels for biomedical applications. Microgels will be prepared by using different biodegradable crosslinkers to gel short polymer fragments which can be resorbed through the kidney. The physical and biological properties of a range of different microgels will be investigated to optimize the particle properties, degradation rate, and cell-particle interactions for specific applications. Drug-loaded microgels will be co-injected with a material which spontaneously forms a hydrogel under physiological conditions, immobilizing microgels locally in the body. Particular focus will be paid to microgels which selectively release insulin as the glucose concentration is increased (creating a self-regulating "artificial pancreas" for diabetes treatment) and microgels which can be triggered by external energy sources such as magnetism to repeatedly and non-invasively release drugs locally within the body. Microgels with pH sensitivity will also be investigated as microbicides and vaccines which can be triggered to both physically entrap viruses like HIV and selectively deliver an anti-viral agent. Finally, patterned microgel surfaces will be investigated to control cell differentiation into different tissues and mimic nerve function. Implementation of this research plan would significantly advance the science of responsive materials and offer enhanced clinical strategies for improving health outcomes in both Canada and the developing world.