Improved, Injectable Hydrogel to Treat Injuries and Promote Healing

Rice University scientists have created a new version of a hydrogel that can be injected into an internal wound and help it heal - while slowly degrading as it is replaced by natural tissue. The hydrogel is made of a self-assembling synthetic peptide that forms nanofiber scaffolds. Like earlier versions, the material can be injected in liquid form and turns into a nanofiber-infused gel at the site of the injury. Without blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients and carry out waste, new tissue growth is limited. So synthetic peptides that form the hydrogel incorporate a mimic of vascular endothelial growth factor, a signal protein that promotes angiogenesis, the growth of a network of blood vessels. In simulations and lab tests, the researchers say the new material works very well.