Researchers at Stanford have developed a supramolecular hydrogel made of polymers and liposomal/lipid-based nanoparticles with broad applications across medical conditions requiring local and sustained introduction of bioactive compounds. The inclusion of liposomes into the hydrogel network provides highly stable retention of the nanoparticles and access to the numerous biomedical capabilities of liposomes including: encapsulation of hydrophobic and hydrophilic drugs, a high level of biocompatibility, ease in engineering nanoscale architecture, capacity to mimic cells (e.g., artificial antigen presenting cells), and engineered surface chemistries. Numerous diseases and injuries would benefit from controlling the location and duration of action of bioactive compounds (e.g. drugs, therapeutic cells, scaffolds). Injectable, macroscopic hydrogels can address this challenge as they permit minimally invasive introduction of a drug vehicle precisely at the tissue of interest. The new hydrogels' material properties are tunable by altering the concentration of the base components as well as through modification of the liposome size and nanoscale architecture.
Polymer-liposomes are biocompatible. These hydrogels exhibit controlled erosion in vivo in C57BL/6 mice and do not provoke any signs of toxicity or inflammation. Scale bar is 25 mm. (image credit: the inventors)
Stage of Development
Initial toxicology studies have been carried out. Further work to evaluate toxicology is underway as well as projects to identify drug and cellular delivery capabilities in mice.
- Local drug delivery and tissue regeneration
- Local immunomodulation (e.g., for cancer immunotherapy or infectious disease vaccines)
- Cellular therapies (e.g., CAR T cell, stem cell, autologous dendritic cell delivery)
- Potentially useful for cell culture in vitro, in particular for 3D cell culture and ex vivo stimulation/expansion of cells
- Incorporation of liposomes into the molecular network of the hydrogel is a major advantage
- Previous method suffered from poor retention of nanoparticles
- Injectable to enable facile and minimally invasive implementation in clinical settings
- Ability to engineer the surface chemistry of the liposomal nanoparticle component allows incorporation of new functions, e.g., cell-binding and affinity interactions with therapeutic cargo
- Robust and compatible with a wide range of formulations
- Correa et al. Injectable Liposome Based Supramolecular Hydrogels for the Programmable Release of Multiple Protein Drugs Matter 2022; volume 5, 1816-1838.
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