Peptide Hydrogels are swollen networks of self-assembled peptide nanofibers that contain large
amounts of water. An important characteristic of such hydrogels is that they can be aspirated and
injected through a standard needle. Recently, we developed such peptide hydrogels that extended
the pain killing effect of morphine form several hours up to 3-4 days. However, further extension of
the sustained release time is required for future clinical applications.
This project will take up this challenge of further extending the sustained drug release profile of
peptide hydrogels by further modification of the chemical structure of the peptides aiming to
stabilize the hydrogel formation by enhancing the supramolecular interactions in the peptide
assemblies. This unprecedented approach is inspired by our very recent insights that the hydrogel
drug release mechanism is based on hydrogel erosion. It is anticipated that at the end of this
project, a set of peptide hydrogelators will be developed that allow sustained in vivo release of drug
cargos over extended periods of time up to at least a week and a first in vivo proof of concept for
over a week efficacy of an opioid peptide hydrogel formulation is foreseen.