Hydrogels with self-healing abilities as injectable carriers for vasculogenesis
Statement of Purpose: Transplantation of therapeutic vasculature has been proposed as a treatment for many vascular disorders. Endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFCs) are sought as a potential therapeutic for treating vascular disease and generating engineer vascularized tissue constructs ex vivo. However, the direct cell delivery and transplantation fail to show a long-term improvement since the poor conditions around the target regions hinders nutrients and oxygen supply for survival of the delivered cells. As a result, injectable hydrogel has been developed as carrier scaffold to deliver cells into lesion site via minimally invasive manner. However, these traditional injectable hydrogels are generated through drastic change of environmental conditions or using some toxic organic reagents. Meanwhile, the slow gelation might result in the cell loss and diffusion, but the extremely rapid gelation will lead to the undesired premature polymerization and catheter clogging. To address these shortcomings, self-healing hydrogels have been explored as novel vehicles for cell delivery. The use of self-healing hydrogels as cell carriers not only avoids the gelation timing issues but can also provide mechanical protection for delivered cells from the shear damage during injection, as well as maintain the retention and integrity of the implant in vivo.