Engineering mechanically robust bioadhesive hydrogels that can withstand large strains may open new opportunities for the sutureless sealing of highly stretchable tissues. While typical chemical modifications of hydrogels, such as increasing the functional group density of crosslinkable moieties and blending them with other polymers or nanomaterials have resulted in improved mechanical stiffness, the modified hydrogels have often exhibited increased brittleness resulting in deteriorated sealing capabilities under large strains. Furthermore, highly elastic hydrogels, such as tropoelastin derivatives are highly expensive. Here, gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA) is hybridized with methacrylate-modified alginate (AlgMA) to enable ion-induced reversible crosslinking that can dissipate energy under strain. The hybrid hydrogels provide a photocrosslinkable, injectable, and bioadhesive platform with an excellent toughness that can be tailored using divalent cations, such as calcium. This class of hybrid biopolymers with more than 600% improved toughness compared to GelMA may set the stage for durable, mechanically resilient, and cost-effective tissue sealants. This strategy to increase the toughness of hydrogels may be extended to other crosslinkable polymers with similarly reactive moieties.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Pharmaceutical Science