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Polymer Brushes for Biomedical Applications


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have a host of applications in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In spite of the large therapeutic impact of stem cells, their use is hindered in part by the inability to maintain cells in long-term culture in synthetic environments. Currently, long-term hPSC culture requires an abundance of undefined factors including natural- and animal-derived products. The inclusion of such products results in immunogenicity concerns and inhibits clinical adoption. 


We recently identified a synthetic polymer, poly[2- (methacryloyloxy)ethyl dimethyl-(3-sulfopropyl)ammonium hydroxide] (PMEDSAH), capable of sustaining long-term human embryonic stem cell (hESC) culture. This zwitterionic hydrogel is created via surface-initiated graft polymerization. Specifically, free radicals are created on tissue culture polystyrene (TCPS) dishes by UV ozone plasma treatment. The dishes are placed in an oxygen free reaction vessel along with the MEDSAH monomer and solvent and the polymerization reaction proceeds for 2.5 hours at ~76-82°C (Figure 1). hESCs were grown for longterm passage (passage# ≥20) in both defined media and media void of animal products.

Advantages over Naturally-Derived Matrices 

 • No batch to batch variation
 • No immunogenic concerns
 • Compatible with multiple cell lines/types
 • Compatible with common sterilization techniques Applications
 • Tissue engineering/regenerative medicine
 • Mechanistic cell or biomaterial studies