At UCLA researchers have designed an injectable hydrogel scaffold that promotes wound healing by serving as a 3D platform within which new tissue can grow. The interconnected material has tiny pores into which new cells can migrate and grow within, while it maintains the structural integrity and helps nutrients reach the newly growing cells.
The spherical hydrogels that make up the material can be precisely manufactured to have specific sizes and spaces between them, as well as the overall chemical composition, allowing the material to be tailored to specific wounds. This is achieved using microfluidic methods methods that the researchers developed to produce the scaffolds. The hydrogel slowly deteriorates and is absorbed into the body, being replaced by newly formed tissue that fills its void.
The material uses only adhesive peptides that allow the cells to adhere to the gel, but otherwise there is no growth factors that need to be used to promote healing within the scaffold.
Here’s an animation of how the new hydrogel works:
Study in Nature Materials: Accelerated wound healing by injectable microporous gel scaffolds assembled from annealed building blocks