Developing Designer Hydrogels Using Click Chemistry
Hydrogels are common substrates used for modeling the interaction between extracellular matrix (ECM) properties and cellular phenomena with systems based on both natural and synthetic polymer gels. Synthetic polypeptides, produced by ring opening polymerization (ROP) of N-carboxyanhydrides (NCA), possess unique structural properties with a poly(amino acid) backbone and the ability to fold into stable secondary structures based on solution conditions. Additionally, polypeptides can be produced with modified side chains allowing subsequent click reactions resulting in a variety of functionalities. The primary objective of this work is to extend the click-able functionalized gel work developed in the group while adapting it to more cell-friendly environments. Through the use of a broader range of click groups and orthogonal chemistries, a library of “designer” gel systems can be generated to culture and study cells in three dimensions.