Biomaterials

Mixing and Matching

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Science  03 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5761, pp. 581
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5761.581b

Strategies for spinal cord injury repair may benefit if a more controlled delivery of drugs to the site of the wound can be achieved. Although bolus injection or a minipump can be used, with the former, the drug may wash away, and a catheter may become blocked or infected. One approach would be to encase the drug in a biodegradable gel that has a viscosity low enough for injection and that gels fast enough to localize to the wound, while being biocompatible and nonadhesive.

Gupta et al. have designed such a material by combining methylcellulose (MC) and hyaluronan (HA). HA is known to promote wound healing by reducing inflammation and minimizing tissue adhesion. However, it is highly soluble in water and disperses when injected into fluid-filled cavities. MC has inverse gelling properties—that is, it gels as the temperature rises by breaking polymer-solvent bonds and forming hydrophobic junctions. A mixture of 2% HA and 7% MC had a low viscosity and showed fast gelling and suitable degradation characteristics. Intrathecal injection in rats showed that the gel performed as well as or better than artificial cerebrospinal fluid. — MSL

Biomaterials 27, 2370 (2006).

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