Marianna Sofman and Alex Wang
Nearly all dense tissues are supplied with a microvascular network that enables oxygen delivery and nutrient exchange. A current challenge in the field of tissue engineering is developing a more physiologically relevant in vitro tissue culture model to study vascularization. Synthetic hydrogels have served as a platform to provide the necessary chemical and mechanical cues that engage and support cell viability. We have developed a novel hydrogel material, Poly (gamma-propargyl-L-glutamate) (PPLG) for 2D and 3D cell culture, and it has shown to promote cell attachment, spreading, and vascularization in an in vitro tissue culture platform. Its unique structural properties may provide benefits over traditional PEG systems. The alpha- helical secondary backbone structure enables orthogonal crosslinking and functionalization through a copper-catalyzed click chemistry reaction. This allows for the facile tuning of biophysical and chemical properties of the hydrogel. Additionally, the ability to cluster biomimetic ligands enhances cell adhesion and parameters can be tuned to achieve near neutral swelling properties. Taken together, these properties allow PPLG to be used in a variety of tissue engineering systems, including microfluidics platforms and applications requiring precise geometry of the scaffold.