Synthesis of a novel photopolymerized nanocomposite hydrogel for treatment of acute mechanical damage to cartilage

Kathryn E. Schlichting, Trishelle M. Copeland-Johnson, Matthew Goodman, Robert J. Lipert, Tanya Prozorov, Xunpei Liu, Todd O. McKinley, Zhiqun Lin, James A. Martin, Surya K. Mallapragada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Intra-articular fractures initiate a cascade of pathobiological and pathomechanical events that culminate in post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA). Hallmark features of PTOA include destruction of the cartilage matrix in combination with loss of chondrocytes and acute mechanical damage (AMD). Currently, treatment of intra-articular fractures essentially focuses completely on restoration of the macroanatomy of the joint. However, current treatment ignores AMD sustained by cartilage at the time of injury. We are exploring aggressive biomaterial-based interventions designed to treat the primary pathological components of AMD. This study describes the development of a novel injectable co-polymer solution that forms a gel at physiological temperatures that can be photocrosslinked, and can form a nanocomposite gel in situ through mineralization. The injectable co-polymer solution will allow the material to fill cracks in the cartilage after trauma. The mechanical properties of the nanocomposite are similar to those of native cartilage, as measured by compressive and shear testing. It thereby has the potential to mechanically stabilize and restore local structural integrity to acutely injured cartilage. Additionally, in situ mineralization ensures good adhesion between the biomaterial and cartilage at the interface, as measured through tensile and shear testing. Thus we have successfully developed a new injectable co-polymer which forms a nanocomposite in situ with mechanical properties similar to those of native cartilage, and which can bond well to native cartilage. This material has the potential to stabilize injured cartilage and prevent PTOA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3094-3100
Number of pages7
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge Colin Paul who assisted with a lot of the initial work on this project through NSF-REU Grant EEC 0851519 . We would like to acknowledge financial support from the Department of Energy’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (DOE-SULI) program that supported Trishelle Copeland-Johnson. Support from the University of Iowa Vice Provost’s office and NIH CORT grant on Post-Traumatic Osteo-Arthritis is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Biomaterials
  • Cartilage
  • Hydrogel
  • Injectable
  • Nanocomposite


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