Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Biomedical Engineering
Alicia Nicole Thomas - Talladega College
Co-Author(s): Aaron Judson and Temesgen Samuel, Department of Pathobiology College of VM, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL
The goal of this project was to characterize the material properties of dried neat and nanomaterial-composite agarose films. Agarose is a polysaccharide purified from seaweed that can be used to form a gel to separate molecules based on size. It consists of alternating units of D- galactose and 3, 6-anhydro- L-galactopyranose. The helical structure of this polymer is super coiled into tight bundles to form a mesh which allows smaller molecules to pass through quicker and easier than large molecules. Though Agarose is commonly used for electrophoresis, the biologically inert properties of the polymer make it a good candidate for other biomedical applications, including development of slow release hydrogels. Internal modifications of the polymer matrix will enable such extended applications of agarose. In this project, we prepared agarose gels with or without added biomaterials, dry the gels to create thin films with possible internal modifications. The films were characterized for material properties using standard methods. Films were modified with 0.5%(1ml), 1%(2ml), 2%(4ml) glycerol with 3%(6g) agarose in 200ml of distilled water to create a film that is flexible and sturdy. Eggshell nanoparticles were added to agarose hydrogel to create maximum level of drug loading into gel. Comparison of drying methods Vacuum dryer vs. Air Drying. Tensile test was done to determine gel strength. Water absorption test was done to measure swelling properties of agarose hydrogel. In this study, we were able to derive agarose thin films from agarose hydrogels, with internal and external modifications. Addition of glycerol improved film flexibility but markedly decreased its tensile strength. Additionally, the swelling property of the films suggested that slow drug release could potentially be attained in a physiological aqueous environments.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): NSF DMR-1358998 (REU).
Faculty Advisor: Pamela Calhoun, PCalhoun@talladega.edu
Role: With the guidance of my PI Dr. Samuel I was able to make/cast agarose hydrogels, use drying methods to prepare films, modify agarose hydrogels with biomaterials or biomolecules, test the tensile strength of agarose films and test the swelling properties of agarose films in water. My project was able contribute a new idea in which the lab can continue to improve and eventuality can used in biomedical applications. After 10 weeks of research I was able to derive agarose thin films from agarose hydrogels, with internal matrix modifications. Addition of glycerol improved film flexibility but markedly decreased its tensile strength. Additionally, the swelling property of the films suggested that slow drug release could potentially be attained in a physiological aqueous environments.