Next-generation hydrogels can form synthetic scaffolds to support the formation of replacement tissues and organs in the emerging area of regenerative medicine.

Embedding peptides into the hydrogels stimulates the growth of essential microvascular networks to ensure a good blood supply.  A new paper describes the technology in which hydrogels functionalized with laminin-derived peptides were transplanted in a mouse cornea and were shown to support cell growth and blood vessel formation.

Saniya Ali and coauthors from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, and Duke University, Durham, NC, created a biodegradable hydrogel-based scaffold containing laminins. These peptides are key components of cells' extracellular matrix and play a critical role in the attachment, movement, and organization of endothelial cells, which form the lining of tubules such as blood vessels.

Stimulating and controlling the formation and growth of these tubule-like, cell-lined structures is essential for ensuring sufficient blood supply to support large complex tissues or organs. The authors present their work and the results of animal studies in the article.

Citation: Saniya Ali, Jennifer E. Saik, Dan J. Gould, Mary E. Dickinson, and Jennifer L. West, 'Immobilization of Cell-Adhesive Laminin Peptides in Degradable PEGDA Hydrogels Influences Endothelial Cell Tubulogenesis',  BioResearch Open Access doi:10.1089/biores.2013.0021.