Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research

Faculty Funded Work

The Role of Alternative Polymeric Additives in the Optimization of Biomimetic Hydrogel Nanocomposites to Enhance Adult Human Dermal Fibroblast Growth (HDFa)

Dr. William Chura, Dr. Jason J. Keleher, & Dr. James Rago
Biology & Chemistry


Wound healing poses a formidable challenge especially in cases such as severe burn injuries and battlefield trauma. While there have been significant advances in the past decade with respect to the development of novel wound management materials, there are several challenges associated with current technologies that include inefficient adhesion to wound surfaces, low uptake wound secretions, and the inability to efficiently store/release antimicrobial drugs. Biomimetic hydrogels, such as chitosan, have gained interest due to their many attractive qualities including high water content/swellability. In our previous studies, it was determined that as chitosan increased and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) decreased the resulting structure provided a scaffold for fibroblast growth. Successful cell growth occurred in flasks that contained a hydrogel composed of 2% chitosan, while cell death occurred in flasks containing a hydrogel containing 1% chitosan and appreciably more PVA. On the other hand, when the ratio of biomimetic chitosan and PVA is optimized to reduce the overall amount of synthetic polymer in the hydrogel, there is healthy cell growth. These results highlight the importance of the correct balance or the removal of synthetic polymer from the system. The proposed project will design a bioreadsorable polymeric hydrogel nanocomposite that contains Ag-functionalized TiO2 nanoparticles to regulate the growth of bacterial biofilms. This optimized hydrogel construction will use alternative polymeric additives (not PVA) to determine their role in enhancing HDFa cell growth, while maintaining swellability.