A self-healable and antifouling hydrogel based on PDMS centered ABA tri-block copolymer polymersomes: a potential material for therapeutic contact lenses†
Herein we have prepared an antifouling and self-healable poly(dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) based hydrogel which consists of a mixture of curcumin loaded zwitterionic PDMS polymersomes and amine functionalized PDMS polymersomes prepared via Reversible Addition–Fragmentation Chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerization and a Schiff-base reaction. The curcumin loaded polymersome consists of a PDMS and poly([dimethyl-[3-(2-methyl-acryloylamino)-propyl]-(3-sulfopropyl)ammonium)] (poly(sulfobetaine)) based tri-block copolymer (BCP) and it was characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS), high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) analyses. To prepare the hydrogel, amine functionalized PDMS polymersomes were crosslinked with polyethylene glycol dialdehyde (PEG-DA) in pH 7.4 buffer solution via a Schiff-base reaction. This hydrogel was able to show sustained delivery of the entrapped curcumin drug for more than 72 h. The self-healing characteristic of the prepared hydrogel in the presence of saline water was elucidated by the “scratch and heal” method and subsequently analyzed through tensile study. Due to the presence of the poly(zwitterionic) moiety in the hydrogel system, it was observed that the hydrogel can efficiently reduce protein deposition, where Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) was taken as a model protein. It was observed that the curcumin loaded hydrogel was detrimental towards both Gram-negative (Escherichia coli) and Gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. This type of smart soft hydrogel system can be a potential material for therapeutic applications for several eye diseases.