In this project, macroporous chemical cryogels based on natural and synthetic polymers will be investigated to create a novel drug delivery platform for biomedical applications. Many parameters will be varied to modulate the physical and mechanical properties of the cryogels. These include the freezing rate, the freezing temperature, the concentration of the gel precursors, and the rate of the cross-linking reaction. The developed cryogels will be characterized for porosity, swelling, and elasticity and compared to the corresponding hydrogels prepared at room temperature to get a deeper insight into the structure-property relationships of such soft materials. The developed scaffolds will be also tested for their drug release capability, cytocompatibility to validate their possible use as novel drug delivery platforms.
Transport models will be developed to assess the effective permeability, swelling and release kinetics of the resulting sponge-like macroporous system to quantify the actual facilitation of cellular infiltration and trafficking, as opposed to the more limited diffusion capability characteristic of traditional homophase hydrogels.