In the recent years, owing to the enhanced environmental awareness, there is a deliberate interest for biopolymers in order to develop eco-friendly materials suitable for high performance applications, as well as in traditional commodity uses. The rapid advancement in understanding of fundamental biosynthetic pathways and options to modulate or tailor these pathways open up new opportunities for the use of biopolymers. Three-dimensional (3D) porous structures based on biopolymers can provide different routes in the controlled release of drugs targeting particular organs/tissues.
The present project aims to obtain biobased xero-, aero- and cryogels with tailored properties, as versatile materials for biomedical applications and to develop the already started collaboration between partners (Romanian and French) in the field of porous matrices based on polyssacharides.
In this regard, four types of 3D cellulose-based networks with different morphologies and swelling properties were obtained by using 4 different drying methods of cellulose gels, such as xerogels (its drying in air), aerogels (supercritical drying - with supercritical CO2, scCO2) and two types of cryogels (II - freeze/lyophilization drying and III - freezing in liquid nitrogen/lyophilization drying).
3D cellulose-based networks were characterized by establishing the degree of swelling, water vapor sorption capacity (DVS), volume density and specific surface area (SBET), their morphology was investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and structural characterization was performed by using X-ray diffraction (XRD) method, differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR).
Cytotoxicity studies have also been carried out on hydrogels obtained from various cellulosic forms of cellulose (cellulose I and II) and cellulose-pullulan and cellulose-alginate mixtures (prepared in different gravimetric ratios) and correlations have been established between the 3D structure of the obtained networks, the properties of the materials and their biocompatibility.
It has also been demonstrated the possibility of using polymer matrices as controlled release drug delivery systems.
It is expected that BIOGELS's high-performance products will be exploited in advanced biomedical applications, as demonstrated by the results of biocompatibility studies (cytotoxicity studies and cell growth studies). Moreover, the information obtained in this study can be considered as a good practice manual to make 3D polymeric structures with the desired design and properties on a pilot or even industrial scale.
Providing specialized technical assistance on implementing innovative technical solutions will help companies and enable improvement of the innovation process and implicitly, an increase in the market and income of potential small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).