RCP Hydrogels based on collagen type 1

Scaffolds or matrices based on extracellular matrix (ECM)-inspired biomaterials play a central role in the repair of tissue damage. Cell matrices can optimise the physiologically relevant 3D microenvironment of the cells and prevent graft cell death

To make a tissue, cells need to be build up in a complex 3D structure similar to their natural structure in the ECM. The behaviour of cells is affected by their physical environment. Hydrogels are often used as matrix for tissue engineering and organ-on-a-chip applications because they can closely mimic the physically relevant microenvironment of the extracellular matrix. 

Cell performance in the gel

In vitro cell culture experiments have been performed to evaluate the behaviour of various cell types embedded in the RCPhC1 hydrogels. These hydrogels are biocompatible with for instance adipose and mesenchymal stromal cells (ASCs and MSCs). 

Figure 1 shows an example in which encapsulated adipose derived stromal cells (ASCs) survived the encapsulation process and proliferate within the hydrogel which is an indication that RCPhC1 hydrogel is an excellent ECM mimic (Tytgat et al, 2019).

Application 1_picture a.jpg

Figure 1 
(A) Evaluation of the metabolic activity of ASC-GFP seeded onto 10 w/v% RCPhC1-MA hydrogel after 1, 2, 3 and 8 days.
(B) Laser scanning microscopy images of ASC-GFP on10 w/v% RCPhC1-MA hydrogel in time.


Publication Photo-crosslinkable recombinant collagen mimics for tissue engineering applications, April 2019
Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Group, Ghent University

Crosslinking rates and mechanical properties

Gelation examples are shown in Figure 2, and illustrate the gel formation of several types of RCP based hydrogels. Kinetics of the reaction can be tuned and can vary from instant hydrogel formation to gelation after 60 minutes. Additionally the strength of the hydrogels can be tuned as well ranging from 100 Pa to 20 kPa.  
Hydrogel gelation kynetics

Figure 2 The rheology kinetics of four types of hydrogels. The storage modulus G′ of RCPhC1 is followed as a function of time upon induction of the gelation trigger. These kinetics can be tuned from direct gelation to hydrogel formation after 60 minutes.