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Issue 11, 2021

Self-assembled low-molecular-weight gelator injectable microgel beads for delivery of bioactive agents

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Abstract

We report the preparation of hybrid self-assembled microgel beads by combining the low molecular weight gelator (LMWG) DBS-CONHNH2 and the natural polysaccharide calcium alginate polymer gelator (PG). Microgel formulations based on LMWGs are extremely rare due to the fragility of the self-assembled networks and the difficulty of retaining any imposed shape. Our hybrid beads contain interpenetrated LMWG and PG networks, and are obtained by an emulsion method, allowing the preparation of spherical gel particles of controllable sizes with diameters in the mm or μm range. Microgels based on LMWG/alginate can be easily prepared with reproducible diameters <1 μm (ca. 800 nm). They are stable in water at room temperature for many months, and survive injection through a syringe. The rapid assembly of the LMWG on cooling plays an active role in helping control the diameter of the microgel beads. These LMWG microbeads retained the ability of the parent gel to deliver the bioactive molecule heparin, and in cell culture medium this enhanced the growth of human mesenchymal stem cells. Such microgels may therefore have future applications in tissue repair. This approach to fabricating LMWG microgels is a platform technology, which could potentially be applied to a variety of different functional LMWGs, and hence has wide-ranging potential.

Graphical abstract: Self-assembled low-molecular-weight gelator injectable microgel beads for delivery of bioactive agents

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
16 Nov 2020
Accepted
25 Jan 2021
First published
02 Feb 2021

This article is Open Access
All publication charges for this article have been paid for by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Chem. Sci., 2021,12, 3958-3965
Article type
Edge Article

Self-assembled low-molecular-weight gelator injectable microgel beads for delivery of bioactive agents

C. C. Piras, A. G. Kay, P. G. Genever and D. K. Smith, Chem. Sci., 2021, 12, 3958 DOI: 10.1039/D0SC06296K

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

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