Cellulose-Based Hydrogels and Methods of Making Thereof
Ocular bandages are used to treat abrasions and ocular surface damage caused by particulates and/or chemical exposure. Ideally, these bandages would be “ready to apply”; suitable for immediate field application by a nonprofessional; provide protection to the injured eye; release antibiotics to decrease risk of secondary infection; and be compatible with an ocular adhesive. However, there is currently no biomaterial with sufficient strength and transparency to facilitate ocular wound healing. Current bandages lack sufficient strength for robust surgical handling, are expensive, or are not readily available because they require donor tissue.
In response to this need, a team of materials researchers from The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins has synthesized a new class of cellulose fiber-reinforced hydrogel composites with the strength, transparency, and biocompatibility required for ocular applications. Specifically, cellulose fibers were used because of their biocompatibility, enhanced wound-healing properties, high strength, and ability to be processed into transparent gels. After carrying out extensive optical, mechanical, and oxygen permeability characterization studies of a panel of hydrogels composed of different cellulose varieties, the team developed a cellulose hydrogel synthesis method to obtain a hydrogel of the desired curvature, size, and thickness. In addition, the biocompatibility of the new material has been demonstrated through keratocyte cell culture experiments. Finally, the adhesive computability and functionalization of the material has been evaluated.
The team anticipates conducting near-term pilot surgical studies using cadaver eyes from tissue banks and carrying out additional work to further optimize the cellulose hydrogel material. The team is also working on the additional application of using the material to create an artificial cornea.
Patent Status: U.S. patent(s) 8,871,016 issued.CONTACT:
Dr. G. R. Jacobovitz
Phone: (443) 778-9899