Dalton, Paul D., Flynn, Lauren and Shoichet, Molly S.
Manufacture of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-co-methyl methacrylate) hydrogel tubes for use as nerve guidance channels.
Biomaterials, 23, (18), . (doi:10.1016/S0142-9612(02)00120-5).
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Hydrogel tubes of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-co-methyl methacrylate) (p(HEMA-co-MMA)) made by liquid–liquid centrifugal casting are being investigated as potential nerve guidance channels in the central nervous system. An important criterion for the nerve guidance channel is that its mechanical properties are similar to those of the spinal cord, where it will be implanted. The formulated p(HEMA-co-MMA) tubes are soft and flexible, consisting of a gel-like outer layer, and an interconnected macroporous, inner layer. The relative thickness of the gel phase to macroporous phase is controlled by the formulation chemistry, and specifically by the ratio of co-monomers, HEMA and MMA. By varying the surface chemistry of the mold within which the tubes are synthesized, tubes were prepared with either a “cracked” or a smooth outer morphology. Tubes with the cracked outer morphology had periodic channels that traversed the wall of the tube, which resulted in a lower modulus than smooth outer morphology tubes, yet likely greater diffusive permeability. For tubes (and not rods) to be formed, phase separation must precede gelation as is detailed in a formulation phase diagram for HEMA, MMA and water. The tensile elastic modulus of p(HEMA-co-MMA) tubes reflected the formulation chemistry, with greater moduli (up to 400 kPa) recorded for tubes having 10 wt% MMA. The p(HEMA-co-MMA) tubes therefore had similar mechanical properties to those of the spinal cord, which has a reported elastic modulus range between 200 and 600 kPa.
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