Our Laboratory uses principles of Polymer Science and Chemistry to design and develop in situ gelling materials for Drug Delivery, Tissue Engineering and Tissue Reconstruction.
Temperature and pH responsive polymers can be used to design biomaterials that respond to physiological conditions in a calculated fashion. Molecular manipulation of these polymers, i.e. changes of molecular weight, addition of functional groups, changes in hydrophobic balance, etc can be used to alter this response and thus design “smart” biomaterials which reacted in a designed manner. In our lab, the goal is to design these materials to deliver drugs, cells or tissues and to investigate and understand the molecular changes that can be used to alter these responses. As an example, a temperature sensitive copolymer with hydrolytically instable side chains can be used as injectable, in situ gelling, and bioresorbable drug delivery system because of its time-dependent lower critical solution temperature. Dissolving or suspending cancer drugs into the liquid prior to injection will allow appropriate placement of the drug by gelation of the polymer after injection. Localized release will be obtained by diffusion of the drug from the material. Following release, the polymer material will be eliminated by the eventual dissolution of the polymer gel. By using engineering design principles, function can be built into such materials for many other applications, limited only by imagination.