Research groupsKirschning group
research - Biomedical materials (BioMed)

Polysaccharide-based hydrogels – a versatile toolbox for tissue engineering

We developed a synthetic tool box for functionalizing polysaccharides (hyaluronic acid, alginate, dextran, pullulan, glycogen, lentinan and carboxymethyl cellulose) with “clickable” aldehydo and hydrazido groups. They allow in vivo hydrogel formation upon mixing.

Furthermore, functionalization of clickable polysaccharide strands with bioactive ligands such as cyclic RGD pentapeptides as cell adhesion factors has been achieved in an orthogonal manner. In that way libraries of polysaccharide-based hydrogels were created including those that are based on different polysaccharide backbones.

These studies are complemented with studies on their biophysical properties, biocompatibility and biodegradability as well as substitutes for extracellular matrices.

Review with N. Dibbert, Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24, 1231 –1240.

with L. Möller, A. Krause, J. Dahlmann, I. Gruh, et al. Int J Artif Organs 2011, 34, 93-102; with J. Dahlmann, L. Möller, I. Gruh, et al. Biomaterials 2013, 34, 940-951; with N. Dibbert, A. Krause, I. Gruh, et al.  Chem. Eur. J. 2016, 52, 18777–18786.




The biomedical problem: Respiratory failures are a significant health-care problem with several hundred thousand adult patients each year. The use of mechanical oxygenators (left) that provide breathing support while the recovery of the lungs occurs, is often indispensable. Extracorporeal devices are based on polymeric hollow fiber membranes (central), that serve as interface between blood and gas streams. In order to improve the biomedical properties and prevent blocking, endothelial cells (ECs) can be seeded onto the membrane surface (right). Nevertheless the cells show only low surface adhesion, which must be improved by attaching adhesion factors such as cyclic RGD peptide.

The chemical solution: Covalent multi-step coating of polymethylpentene (oxygen plasma, nitrene insertion, PEG coupling and copper-free click coupling of RGD) provided a highly biocompatible polymer surface. The resulting modified membrane preserves the required excellent gas flow properties while being densely seeded with endothelial cells.

with L. Möller, A. Haverich, et al. J. Org. Chem. 2013, 9, 270-277.