Advanced cell-instructive photo-hydrogels for laser-based highresolution 3D printing

01 January 2016 → 31 December 2018
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Other biological sciences
photo hydrogel
Project description

Elucidating the mechanisms of mammalian cell interaction of with their surrounding matrix is one of
the biggest scientific challenges of modern times. The knowledge gained from such research has an
enormous innovative potential and would benefit a number of critical areas including drug
development, regenerative medicine, and studies of disease progression. The main objective of this
proposal is to develop a material toolkit enabling realization of precisely engineered biomimetic
artificial 3D cell culture matrices. The two-photon polymerization (2PP) technique will be used to
noninvasively pattern cell-containing hydrogels in 3D. The material concept is based on combination
of naturally-based (collagen derived) and synthetic poly(2-oxazoline)s hydrogel precursors. These
compounds will be modified with reactive groups that undergo radical chain growth polymerization.
In parallel, novel water-soluble photoinitiators based on a chromophore involving a cleavable 1,4-
pentazadiene-core (PADE) will be developed. The resulting photosensitive, highly tunable hydrogels
will enable realization of complex structures via high resolution 3D printing based on 2PP and will be
used to establish procedures for local tuning of mechanical properties of produced structures on a
sub-cellular level in 3D. The envisioned developments will facilitate realization of elegant biological
in vitro experiments, helping to elucidate biomimetic aspects of cell interaction with the
surrounding environment.