Biodegradable PHEMA-based biomaterials

Ylenia Casadio

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] The synthetic hydrogel poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (PHEMA) has been used as a biocompatible biomaterial in ocular devices, such as soft contact lenses, intraocular lenses and an artificial cornea. Due to its favourable properties as an already established (but non-biodegradable) biomaterial, PHEMA is an interesting candidate for use as a material for scaffolds in tissue engineering. A tenant of tissue engineering scaffolds is obtaining the appropriate porous morphology to allow for successful cellular attachment and support. PHEMA hydrogels exhibit varied morphological features, which range from non-porous (homogeneous) to macroporous (heterogeneous) and can be readily obtained by fine-tuning the polymerisation conditions. A desirable feature for matrices that are to be used as tissue supports is the ability to biodegrade in a biological environment. This thesis describes the preparation and enzymatic biodegradation behaviour of novel porous PHEMA hydrogels that have been crosslinked with biodegradable peptide-based crosslinking agents. Peptide-based crosslinking agents were designed to contain two terminal polymerisable groups flanking an internal biodegradable backbone. This backbone was specifically designed to be targeted by the proteolytic enzyme papain. The general design template allowed for the development of a synthetic methodology that was readily implemented for the production of a range of olefin-peptide conjugates. A suite of olefin-peptide conjugates of general structure I were synthesised, characterised and further tested with papain to determine their biodegradation properties. ... The second strategy for producing bioresorbable degradation fragments involved the incorporation of the highly hydrophilic comonomer, poly(ethylene glycol) PEG into the PHEMA backbone. The addition of PEG to PHEMA resulted in the formation of homogeneous hydrogels that had an improved hydrophilicity compared to their heterogeneous PHEMA counterparts. The synthetic conditions for the preparation of PHEMA and PHEMA-co-PEG hydrogels by photoinitiated polymerisation were thoroughly investigated. It was found that the pore morphology and general properties (non-porous to macroporous) of these hydrogels could be controlled by the appropriate choice of polymerisation conditions. The hydrogels were characterised by scanning electron microscopy, thermal gravimetric analysis and differential scanning calorimetry. The peptide-based crosslinking agents were successfully co-polymerised with the HEMA and PEGMA via photoinitiated polymerisation to provide a range of PHEMA and PHEMA-co-PEG hydrogels that displayed both homogeneous and heterogeneous hydrogel properties. The final crosslinked hydrogels were characterised by scanning electron microscopy and were subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis. The PHEMA-peptide conjugate hydrogels proved to be biodegradable, with degradation behaviour dependent on the hydrogel formulation and the length of the peptide-based crosslinking agent.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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