April 23, 2024

McGill University scientists develop a new biomaterial to repair wounds.

McGill University scientists have developed a biomaterial that can repair the heart, muscles, and vocal cords. This is a significant advance in regenerative medicine.

Heart damage recovery can be a complex and lengthy process. Because of the constant movement, tissues must withstand, healing can be difficult. A similar is true for vocal cords. Guangyu Bao is a McGill University Ph.D. candidate and a researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Illustration of the injection of injectable hydrogel to repair the voice and close a wound. Credit to Sepideh Mohammadi

Professor Luc Mongeau and assistant Professor Jianyu LI led the research team. They developed a new injectable gel for wound healing. Hydrogel is a biomaterial that allows cells to grow and live. The biomaterial is injected into the body and forms a porous, stable structure that enables live cells to grow, pass through, or repair damaged organs.

Guangyu Bao says, “The results are promising, and we hope that the new hydrogel will one day be used as an Implant to restore the voice of people with damaged vocal cords, such as survivors of laryngeal carcinoma.”

It’s time to put it to the test.

The scientists tested the hydrogel’s durability in a machine that simulates the extreme biomechanics of human vocal cords. The new biomaterial could vibrate 120 times per second for more than 6 million cycles. Other standard hydrogels broke down, making them unable to withstand the load.

“We were thrilled to see that it performed flawlessly in our tests. No injectable hydrogels had both high porosity or toughness before our work. Guangyu Bao says that to solve this problem, we added pore-forming plastic men to our formula.

Three different hydrogels were tested using the vocal chord bioreactor. The new hydrogel was stable, while the standard hydrogels, the most injectable ones, did not survive the test. Credit to Sareh Taheri

Scientists say the innovation opens up new possibilities for other applications such as drug delivery, tissue engineering, or the creation of model tissues to aid in drug screening. Hydrogel technology could be used to create lungs for COVID-19 drug testing.

“Our research highlights the importance of bioengineering, materials science, and mechanical engineering in creating novel biomaterials with unmatched performance. We look forward to translating these into the clinic,” said Professor Jianyu LI, Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials & Musculoskeletal Health.

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