Megan Blauch of the Wittenberg Research Group

Graduate student Megan Blauch will present 

Smart Hydrogels: Design and Applications as Vehicles for Controlled Biomolecule Delivery 

on April 17, 2018 at 4:10 PM in Neville Hall, Room 3.


A hydrogel is a three-dimensional matrix of hydrophilic polymers that is able to uptake and dispel surrounding fluids, typically water. Hydrogels have found use in a variety of applications in the biomedical sciences such as contact lenses, wound dressings, and scaffolds for tissue engineering. Specifically, stimuli-responsive, or “smart”, hydrogels have gained attention for their ability to swell and de-swell with not only surrounding liquid as a trigger but by utilizing external stimuli such as pH, temperature and ionic strength to induce changes. These stimuli act as a “switch” that will cause the polymer network to expand or contract based on hydrogel composition. Smart hydrogels are advantageous for use in drug delivery systems due to their high water content of 70-99%, making them physically similar to tissue, and their tunable properties that can be applicable to a variety of environments. Smart hydrogels provide the spatial and temporal control that other means of drug delivery do not always allow while also being biocompatible and biodegradable.
This seminar will provide insight into the use of smart hydrogels as a means for the delivery of various biomolecules for therapeutic purposes via the discussion of three reports. The first report describes the synthesis of a novel thermally-responsive hybrid hydrogel system of polyethyleneimine (PEI) and poly (N-isopropylacyrlamide) (PNIPAm) for use as a general controlled drug release system for two model drugs: folic acid and methylene blue.1 The second report utilizes the binding affinity of streptavidin and biotin to create a competitive affinity release system.2 Streptavidin bound to a therapeutic antibody is released from an agarose-desthiobiotin hydrogel via the introduction of sparingly soluble biotin derivatives that competitively bind to streptavidin.2 The final report describes the use of a two-compartment aptamer-functionalized hydrogel system for the sequential release of a protein.3 A small molecule displaces from DNA in the inner compartment and becomes an active signaling molecule while the free DNA hybridizes in the outer compartment, resulting in protein release from the gel.3
  1. Ma, C. Shi, Y. Pena, D.A. Peng, L. and G. Yu. Agnew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7376-7380.
  2. Huynh, V. and R.G. Wylie. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 1-6.
  3. Lai, J. Li, S. Shi, X. Coyne, J. Zhao, N. Dong, F. Mao, Y. and Y. Wang. Chem. Sci. 2017, 8, 7306-7311.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Megan Blauch