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Biomacromolecules. 2009 Jun 8;10(6):1547-53. doi: 10.1021/bm900145g.

Mixing a sol and a precipitate of block copolymers with different block ratios leads to an injectable hydrogel.

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  • 1Department of Macromolecular Science, Laboratory of Advanced Materials, Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers of Ministry of Education, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.


A facile method to obtain a thermoreversible physical hydrogel was found by simply mixing an aqueous sol of a block copolymer with a precipitate of a similar copolymer but with a different block ratio. Two ABA-type triblock copolymers poly(D,L-lactic acid-co-glycolic acid)-B-poly(ethylene glycol)-B-poly(D,L-lactic acid-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA-PEG-PLGA) were synthesized. One sample in water was a sol in a broad temperature region, while the other in water was just a precipitate. The mixture of these two samples with a certain mix ratio underwent, however, a sol-to-gel-to-precipitate transition upon an increase of temperature. A dramatic tuning of the sol-gel transition temperature was conveniently achieved by merely varying mix ratio, even in the case of a similar molecular weight. Our study indicates that the balance of hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity within this sort of amphiphilic copolymers is critical to the inverse thermal gelation in water resulting from aggregation of micelles. The availability of encapsulation and sustained release of lysozyme, a model protein by the thermogelling systems was confirmed. This "mix" method provides a very convenient approach to design injectable thermogelling biomaterials with a broad adjustable window, and the novel copolymer mixture platform is potentially used in drug delivery and other biomedical applications.

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