“SHAPE-CHANGING PHOTODEGRADABLE HYDROGELS AS DYNAMIC CELL CULTURE ENVIRONMENTS”
Engineering cell culture environments that mimic the 3D dynamic nature of tissues is a major challenge. Even with advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing, it is difficult to produce 3D structures of soft hydrogels, which are otherwise ideal for cell culture. Self-folding materials allow the generation of cell-friendly structures with 3D complexity across a range of length scales that are difficult to achieve with printing and lithography. Folding is induced by differential stresses generated within a flexible or elastic material. While self-folding hydrogels have been reported, heterogeneities that lead to differential swelling must be pre-patterned into the material, and thus the shape change occurs as soon as the material is places in a physiologically relevant environment (lacks temporal control). Furthermore, only a few examples utilizing these materials with live cells have been reported. We have designed photodegradable hydrogels incorporating ortho-nitrobenzyl moieties that permit encapsulation or cell seeding. Thin sheets are programmed to undergo a 2D to 3D shape change in response to light which induces irreversible folding of the hydrogel sheet due to differential swelling of the degraded and non-degraded regions. This bottom-up approach enables the use of simple 2D precursors to create biologically relevant 3D structures.
Andrea M. Kasko graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in Chemistry. In 1999, she obtained a M.S.E. in Macromolecular Science Engineering from Case Western Reserve University under the direction of Professor Virgil Percec, and in 2004 she obtained a PhD in Polymer Science at the University of Akron working with Professor Coleen Pugh. After two years of post-doctoral research sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, under the direction of Professor Kristi Anseth at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Andrea joined the Bioengineering Department at UCLA, where she is currently an Associate Professor. In recognition of the creative nature of her work, Andrea received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award in 2011.The Kasko Lab focus is the synthesis of new polymeric biomaterials, specifically in two areas: dynamically controllable biomaterials and biomimetic and bio-derived materials.
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