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Biomacromolecules. 2009 Mar 9;10(3):465-70. doi: 10.1021/bm801332u.

Innovative approach for producing injectable, biodegradable materials using chitooligosaccharides and green chemistry.

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Department of Biomaterials, Institute of Science and Technology of Polymers, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.


Although there are a number of injectable biomaterials currently under development, they present some drawbacks such as being based on synthetic polymers, needing toxic or aggressive synthesis procedures or using raw materials with low availability and/or high production costs. Having this in mind, a novel injectable biomaterial using chitooligosaccharides as starting materials was developed. This system uses a widely available and cheap polymer from marine biomass (chitosan), which can be turned into an injectable material by water-based and ecologically friendly reactions. Chitooligosaccharides were functionalized with methacrylic groups, to allow in situ cross-linking. The degree of substitution, as determined by (1)H NMR, varied between 5 and 50%. The system was characterized in terms of kinetics of gel formation, rheology, degradation behavior and in vitro cytotoxicity. The gelation time could be easily tailored between 1.5 and 60 min by changing the conditions of the methacrylation reaction, and the final gel presented rheological properties typical of strong gels, that is, shear stresses in the kPa range. The cross-linked gel was degradable and nontoxic, presenting indeed an interesting cytokinetic effect. Injectable materials based on chitooligosaccharides are, therefore, an innovative system combining adequate biological performance, ease of preparation, and an ecologically friendly concept of production.

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