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HKUST develops hydrogels that could enhance material biology and biomedicine


A research team at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has created a new protein-based, stimuli-responsive smart hydrogel that could open doors for future material biology and biomedical applications.

Hydrogels are leading materials for biomedical applications such as drug delivery and stem cell therapy. Traditional hydrogels, used in products such as facial masks and contact lenses, are made of either synthetic polymers or biological extracts such as animal collagen, and could cause allergies. They cannot fully mimic the complex biological environment needed for cell growth and development.

But the new smart hydrogel is suitable to act as a carrier for stem cells, key components for regenerative medicine. Because of its light sensing function, the new material can also control the time and manner of drug delivery in the human body.

 
Team leader Prof Sun Fei shines light on the smart hydrogel, which changes the substance from solid to liquid.
Team leader Prof Sun Fei shines light on the smart hydrogel, which changes the substance from solid to liquid.
The team assembled genetically-engineered proteins into molecular networks to make the new smart hydrogel.
The team assembled genetically-engineered proteins into molecular networks to make the new smart hydrogel.
 
A researcher with a substance used to make the new smart hydrogel.
A researcher with a substance used to make the new smart hydrogel.
 
Entirely protein-based hydrogels represent a new way to design bioactive materials with precise control over their properties.
Entirely protein-based hydrogels represent a new way to design bioactive materials with precise control over their properties.
The smart hydrogel can enhance regenerative medicine.
The smart hydrogel can enhance regenerative medicine.
   



 


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