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University of Coimbra researcher develops smart injectable hydrogel for tissue regeneration

8 february
Patrícia Alves
Patrícia Alves
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Patrícia Alves, a researcher at the Chemical Engineering and Renewable Resources for Sustainability Centre (CERES- Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra (DEQ-FCTUC), is developing a smart injectable system to aid tissue regeneration.

The healing process of most diseases and injuries is very complex and involves several stages, including angiogenesis (the mechanism by which new blood vessels grow from existing blood vessels), inflammation and tissue remodelling.

Patrícia Alves, the coordinator of the project, says: "From a clinical standpoint, the use of a single agent to treat different pathological conditions and diseases is insufficient; we need a biomaterial that can control the release of different agents for a given period of time, which is what the 'SmartLipoGel' project aims to do"

Alves adds that "the ability to manage drug release in real time allows the delivery of the right dose at the right time. The versatility of smart hydrogels and liposomes spans several biomedical applications, from tissue engineering and drug release to wound healing and 3D bioprinting. Therefore, the focus of the project is to develop injectable polysaccharide-based hydrogels integrated with heat-responsive liposomes (LipoGel) to facilitate tissue regeneration". The system will enable the passive release of an anti-inflammatory or antibiotic encapsulated in a hydrogel, and of a second therapeutic agent triggered by a heat stimulus.

The DEQ researcher believes that "this research will lead to the development of new biomaterials for tissue regeneration that offer improved performance, more precise control, and fewer side effects compared to current options”.

The "SmartLipoGel" project, which has received 50,000 euros in funding from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology), will run for 18 months. It involves the collaboration of Benilde Costa, a researcher at the Centre for Physics of the University of Coimbra (CFisUC), Alexandrina Mendes, a researcher at the Centre for Innovative Biomedicine and Biotechnology (CIBB), and José Ventura, a consultant at the company "Artur Salgado, SA".


Sara Machado (original PT press release); Diana Taborda (English)