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Multiscale design of smart hydrogels for controlled drug release

MoRE2020 Fellow Ali Assifaoui, incoming mobility from University of Burgundy, France, to Chalmers University of Technology

Project summary

The proposed project combines Life Science (area of high priority and an important regional employer) and Material Science (area of development for the Västra Götaland region), an essential combination for the development of future drug delivery systems. This collaborative project between the applying researcher and the host lab covers several disciplines (physical-chemistry, analytical chemistry and biochemistry) and the findings is applicable in several industrial sectors (pharmaceutical and food).

The aim of this project is to design innovative hydrogels for protein delivery by using iron ions as crosslinking agent. The use of iron allows for the option to obtain an ‘on-demand’ control release by the application of magnetic field. In addition, these hydrogels could be used as a contrast agent to study there behaviours by using MRI for many applications (digestion, implants,…). The main objective of this work is to maintain the hydrogels functions which are to protect, target and locally deliver drugs in a controllable manner. The scientific question is how the multiscale structural properties of the specific hydrogel affect the encapsulation and the release of both the protein and iron. The originality of the methodology used is to evaluate the hydrogel structure at different length scales and to combine in the same study various techniques based on small angle neutron scattering, electron microscopy, pharmaceutical technology and rheology.

This project presents important knowledge transfer as the host lab will gain knowledge in scattering techniques (necessary for the region to make full use of the European spallation source in Lund) and for the applying researcher to gain knowledge in controlled release formulations as well as electron microscopy knowledge.

Collaborating end-user: Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Summary of Project Results


In this project, we have designed and formulated hydrogels based on polysaccharide (pectin) containing a globular protein. We have successfully synthetized iron nanoparticles inside these hydrogels. The presence of such nanoparticles can be used:

i) as contrast agent for MRI (imaging) which is interesting for the end-user
ii) to well characterize the structure of the gel network at mesoscopic scale (size of pores)
iii) to trigger the drug release by applying an external stimulus (magnetic field)

Senast uppdaterad: 2020-04-16 11:01