Hydrogel Functionalisation

Nanoparticle penetration through a tumour environment is difficult to replicate and model In vitro and often difficult to quantify In vivo. Presented is part of my PhD for a modular testbed for fast prototyping nanoparticle designs. The hydrogels were important for replicating tumour-like environments in terms of mechanical properties. The measurement of nanoparticle penetration across the hydrogel environment is an indication of nanoparticle distributions in tumour-like environments. My PhD explored the different nanoparticle sizes and binding affinity on distributions in a diffusive microfluidic device.

Gelatin methacrylate, a UV curable hydrogel, was created in the lab by myself based on Nichol et al. 2010 and adapted for use in microfluidic devices with a custom loading protocol1. A comparison was made between different types of gelatin available by Merck, type-A and type-B gelatin as well as bloom number, an indicator of measure of the strength and stiffness of the gelatin. The hydrogel was validated using Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) displaying the methacrylic addition. Additionally, trials were conducted on the quantity of photo-initiator and length of time for UV irradiation within a microfluidic device.

Additionally, alginate hydrogel was used where calcium was used for cross-linking. The alginate hydrogel was supported by the Perriman group using alginate as a bio-ink for bio-printing applications2.

Finally, nanoparticle penetration work has been continued and published comparing Matrigel and Collagen I hydrogels3.

The project was part of my PhD at the University of Bristol4.


  1. Nichol, J. W., Koshy, S. T., Bae, H., Hwang, C. M., Yamanlar, S., & Khademhosseini, A. (2010). Cell-laden microengineered gelatin methacrylate hydrogels. Biomaterials, 31(21), 5536–5544. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.03.064
  2. Armstrong, J. P. K., Burke, M., Carter, B. M., Davis, S. A., & Perriman, A. W. (2016). 3D Bioprinting Using a Templated Porous Bioink. Advanced Healthcare Materials, 5(14), 1724–1730. https://doi.org/10.1002/adhm.201600022
  3. McCormick, S. C., Stillman, N., Hockley, M., Perriman, A. W., & Hauert, S. (2021). Measuring nanoparticle penetration through bio-mimetic gels. International Journal of Nanomedicine, 16, 2585–2595. https://doi.org/10.2147/IJN.S292131
  4. Hockley, M. (2019). Screening Nanoparticle Dynamics on Modular Tumours-on-a-chip devices [University of Bristol]. https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/studentTheses/screening-nanoparticle-dynamics-on-modular-tumours-on-a-chip-devi

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