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Sani Wins Best Poster Award at MRS

November 30, 2017

Chemical Engineering PhD student Ehsan Shirzaei Sani received Best Poster Award at the 2017 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting and Exhibit earlier this week in Boston. Sani, a member of the Annabi  Lab, presented on his project entitled, "Engineering sprayable and antimicrobial naturally-derived hydrogel adhesives."

Chronic wounds are estimated to affect 6.5 million patients in the U.S annually. These types of wounds do not always heal efficiently and are at risk of bacterial infection. Hydrogel-based adhesives have emerged as alternatives for sutureless wound closure, since they can be tuned to mimic the composition and properties of the native tissue. However, they often exhibit poor mechanical properties and adhesion to wet tissues, and they lack antibacterial activity. In this study, we developed a novel elastic and sprayable hydrogel with antimicrobial properties through photopolymerization via visible light. The engineered hydrogel adhesive is comprised of methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin (MeTro) and gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) polymers, which are conjugated with an antimicrobial peptide (AMP Tet213). The hydrogel was shown to mimic the mechanical properties and to adhere strongly to the native tissue, to form an antibacterial and regenerative barrier. The tensile modulus of the hydrogel was found to be tunable in the range of 5 – 25 kPa, based on varying MeTro/GelMA ratios and final polymer concentrations. In particular, the hydrogel formulation consisting of 70/30 MeTro/GelMA with a 15% (w/v) final polymer concentration and 0.01% (w/v) AMP exhibited optimal mechanical and antimicrobial properties. The engineered hydrogel was effective at preventing the growth of both Gram+ (MRSA – CFU decreased 2.5 fold) and Gram- (E.coli – CFU decreased 6.5 fold) bacteria in vitro. Our results also showed that the hydrogels could support the growth and proliferation of 3T3 fibroblasts in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional cultures in vitro. In addition, subcutaneous implantation in a murine host showed that the hydrogels could be efficiently biodegraded in vivo, without eliciting any significant inflammatory response. Taken together, our results demonstrated that MeTro/GelMA-AMP hydrogels can be used for sutureless wound closure strategies, while also preventing infection and promoting healing of chronic wounds.