Researchers have benefitted from the use of hydrogels for more than 50 years. However, in more recent times, their applications have become even more valuable, as we have seen changes to their formulation that make them even more valuable to researchers. Of course, it is essential to distinguish between natural and synthetic hydrogels. Here we focus on using synthetic hydrogels as a more readily available consistent results mechanism for research accuracy and cost reduction.
Natural hydrogels include collagen, Matrigel, fibrin, and natural material derivatives including alginate, all of which are extracellular matrix (ECM) components in vivo.
Synthetic hydrogels, including polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, and diacrylate, can be modified to be hydrolyzable or biodegradable over variable periods. Synthetic hydrogels are much more reproducible and remove much of the animal testing needs, thus bringing greater flexibility for chemical composition and mechanical property tuning. They are a cost-effective, ready-to-use, and more readily available scaffold for researchers seeking consistent, accurate testing.
Hydrogels have biomedical value inherently to become effective scaffolds for complex tissue engineering and multiple dimension models. They offer a platform for drug matrices, tissue regeneration delivery, including organ mimicking and cartilage repair, wound healing, spine and heart injury recovery, and cell therapy cell encapsulation. Such hydrogels offer excellent scaffolds for 3D modeling and bioprinting, used for research, scientific and medical application. What are these hydrogels made of? In order to determine the chemical composition of the gel, you would need to perform a UV Vis spectroscopy. So, what is UV Vis spectroscopy? That's a viable question - basically, this process is a bit complicated, but it helps you determine what's a certain thing made of, using UV radiation.
Peptide hydrogels such as those available from a leading force in research and development, Manchester Biogel, offer researchers the benefit of using synthetic hydrogels. These can be modified to provide the best scaffold for their individual and bespoke research projects. Selecting a hydrogel composition that offers relevant and reliable ability to adhere to cells, culture stability, tunability and biocompatibility are most important. Synthetic peptide hydrogels are easy to use and bring translational relevance to projects with an economical solution to scaffold production.
Natural hydrogels are suitable for some applications. However, it does not give researchers the same degree of scalability, reliability, and reproducible results as synthetic hydrogels.
Natural hydrogels are challenging to control. This is because reproducible results are more difficult to achieve with the composition varying between batches. This is why researchers see more benefit from the specific crosslinking mechanisms that synthetic hydrogels offer. Each set guarantees the same scaffold mechanism. Additionally, it is more readily available and cost-efficient than natural hydrogels.
Synthetic hydrogels provide an environment that is suitable for cells to survive and for them to thrive. They achieve a more representative in vitro model of the in vivo environment. They can be tailored to specific project needs by optimizing functionality and mechanical stiffness. Additionally, they mimic cell recognition sequences of the naturally present native ECM. Thus, providing a more readily accepting and beneficial environment for cells.
Researchers choosing peptide hydrogels to support their tissue or cell research projects have access to generally non-immunogenic, fully biocompatible, and biodegradable hydrogel scaffolds that are animal-free and modular.
Each synthetic peptide hydrogel is ready to use. It requires no special storage to bring convenience to research projects. They are shear thinning, transparent, and give accurate, convenient results.
Peptide hydrogels provide scaffolds that help support research into cancer cell behaviors. This includes metastasis, invasion, survival, growth habits, and identifying whether these changes are relevant in vivo. Research into injectable hydrogels for tissue engineering and minimally invasive drug delivery is helping to meet the UK government's targets. Thus, helping to reduce the use of animals in research and offer more targeted drug delivery and personalized treatment plans.