Advanced polymeric scaffolds for functional materials in biomedical applications
Abstract: Advancements in the biomedical field are driven by the design of novel materials with controlled physical and bio-interactive properties. To develop such materials, researchers rely on the use of highly efficient reactions for the assembly of advanced polymeric scaffolds that meet the demands of a functional biomaterial. In this thesis two main strategies for such materials have been explored; these include the use of off-stoichiometric thiol-ene networks and dendritic polymer scaffolds. In the first case, the highly efficient UV-induced thiol-ene coupling (TEC) reaction was used to create crosslinked polymeric networks with a predetermined and tunable excess of thiol or ene functionality. These materials rely on the use of readily available commercial monomers. By adopting standard molding techniques and simple TEC surface modifications, patterned surfaces with tunable hydrophobicity could be obtained. Moreover, these materials are shown to have great potential for rapid prototyping of microfluidic devices. In the second case, dendritic polymer scaffolds were evaluated for their ability to increase surface interactions and produce functional 3D networks. More specifically, a self-assembled dendritic monolayer approach was explored for producing highly functional dendronized surfaces with specific interactions towards pathogenic E. coli bacteria. Furthermore, a library of heterofunctional dendritic scaffolds, with a controllable and exact number of dual-purpose azide and ene functional groups, has been synthesized. These scaffolds were explored for the production of cell interactive hydrogels and primers for bone adhesive implants. Dendritic hydrogels decorated with a selection of bio-relevant moieties and with Young’s moduli in the same range as several body tissues could be produced by facile UV-induced TEC crosslinking. These gels showed low cytotoxic response and relatively rapid rates of degradation when cultured with normal human dermal fibroblast cells. When used as primers for bone adhesive patches, heterofunctional dendrimers with high azide-group content led to a significant increase in the adhesion between a UV-cured hydrophobic matrix and the wet bone surface (compared to patches without primers).
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