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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Supramolecular Polymer Hydrogels for Drug-Induced Tissue Regeneration.

  • Author(s): Cheng, Jing;
  • Amin, Devang;
  • Latona, Jessica;
  • Heber-Katz, Ellen;
  • Messersmith, Phillip B
  • et al.

Supramolecular polymers self-assemble into nanofibers, micelles, and other nanostructures through weak noncovalent interactions between subunits. Such systems possess attractive properties for use in a variety of practical settings such as energy, sustainability, and healthcare. In regenerative medicine, a common approach involves implanting a supramolecular material containing cell and growth factor binding motifs directly into a diseased or traumatized tissue defect, whereupon it interacts with and/or recruits components of the biological system to induce tissue healing. Here we introduce a supramolecular therapeutic in which tissue regeneration is orchestrated by a supramolecular polymer prodrug implanted subcutaneously in a remote tissue. Our approach exploits a hydrophobic small-molecule inhibitor of prolyl hydroxylase enzyme as both a regeneration-inducing therapeutic and a structure-directing agent in a supramolecular polymer that forms shear-thinning nanofiber hydrogels. Subcutaneous injection of the supramolecular hydrogel in the back of mice wounded with a critical-sized defect in the ear led to transient upregulation of hypoxia inducible factor-1α and regeneration of ear tissue in a manner reminiscent of epimorphic regeneration. This drug-induced regeneration strategy utilizes a simple and translatable supramolecular design, eliminates the need for delivery of biologics ( e. g., growth factors, cells), and avoids implantation of a foreign material directly in a tissue defect.

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