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Composite Gels and Methods of their Use in Tissue Repair, Drug Delivery, and as Implants

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) seeks research partners, co-development partners, and/or licensees for hydrogels that can be used in tissue repair. Gels typically exhibit a decrease in mechanical strength (e.g., elastic modulus) upon swelling of the particles. The gels of this technology, however, exhibit an increase in mechanical strength upon swelling. The gels are comprised of a crosslinked polymer matrix dispersed in a crosslinked polymer matrix.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • Gel, Tissue, Composite, Tissue Repair, Hydrogels, Implant, Cartilage, Drug Delivery, Polymer, Matrix, Basser
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing and co-development.
Description of Technology

Gel materials, such as hydrogel materials, typically lose mechanical strength as they swell. This property of gels limits their use in both biological (e.g., cartilage repair) and non-biological (e.g., engineering and construction sealing and repair) applications. Innovative gels in both medical and non-medical fields sorely are needed.

Recent innovations in this space, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), include self-reinforcing, composite gels.  These gels comprise novel combinations of solvents and swellable crosslinked polymer particles.  Exemplary solvents include water, and organic solvents as are known in theart such as dimethyl sulfoxide and tetrahydrofuran. Additional solvents include alcohols (ethyl alcohol, propyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, butanol, isobutyl alcohol, glycerol, benzyl alcohol), glycols (ethylene glycol, propylene glycol), organosulfur compounds (dimethyl sulfoxide), higher alkanes (pentadecane, hexadecane, heptadecane, dodecane), hydrocarbons (gasoline, petroleum, n-octane), esters (ethyl acetate, propyl acetate), ketones (methyl ethyl ketone, methyl propyl ketone, diethyl ketone), silicone fluids (cyclosiloxanes, organosiloxane liquids, hexamethyldisoloxane, pentamethylpolysiloxane), and others, and combinations of solvents.  Swellable crosslinked microgel polymer particles comprise hyaluronic acid, a proteoglycan, a polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, a polyvinylpyrrolidone, dextran particles, a poly(acrylic acid), a poly(methacrylic acid), polystyrene sulfonate, a polyacrylamide, or a combination thereof.  Tests of the innovative gels developed by NICHD demonstrate that these gels have properties similar to, e.g., human cartilage – including load-bearing ability and demonstrating high self-reinforcement. The special properties of these gels also render them suitable for drug release to the intestines and other organs.  

Researchers at NICHD are open to the possibility of a wide variety of collaborative and licensing relationships. Possibilities include a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) as well as non-exclusive or exclusive license agreements.  NICHD is eager to transfer rights in these technologies to responsible commercial partners who will diligently move therapeutics towards commercialization.

Potential Commercial Applications
  • Cartilage repair
  • Intervertebral disc repair
  • Drug delivery 
  • Breast implant
Competitive Advantages
  • Highly self-reinforcing as compared to traditional gel materials
  • Wide variety of potential clinical applications
Development Stage
Patent Status
  • U.S. Provisional: U.S. Provisional Patent Application Number 62/802,885, Filed 08 Feb 2019
  • U.S. Patent Filed: U.S. Patent Application Number 16/783,494, Filed 06 Feb 2020
Therapeutic Area
Tuesday, October 27, 2020