Composite Gels and Methods of their Use in Tissue Repair, Drug Delivery, and as Implants

Gel materials, such as hydrogel materials, typically lose mechanical strength as they swell. This property of gels limits their use in both biological (e.g., cartilage repair) and non-biological (e.g., engineering and construction sealing and repair) applications. Innovative gels in both medical and non-medical fields sorely are needed.

Recent innovations in this space, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), include self-reinforcing, composite gels.  These gels comprise novel combinations of solvents and swellable crosslinked polymer particles.  Exemplary solvents include water, and organic solvents as are known in theart such as dimethyl sulfoxide and tetrahydrofuran. Additional solvents include alcohols (ethyl alcohol, propyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, butanol, isobutyl alcohol, glycerol, benzyl alcohol), glycols (ethylene glycol, propylene glycol), organosulfur compounds (dimethyl sulfoxide), higher alkanes (pentadecane, hexadecane, heptadecane, dodecane), hydrocarbons (gasoline, petroleum, n-octane), esters (ethyl acetate, propyl acetate), ketones (methyl ethyl ketone, methyl propyl ketone, diethyl ketone), silicone fluids (cyclosiloxanes, organosiloxane liquids, hexamethyldisoloxane, pentamethylpolysiloxane), and others, and combinations of solvents.  Swellable crosslinked microgel polymer particles comprise hyaluronic acid, a proteoglycan, a polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, a polyvinylpyrrolidone, dextran particles, a poly(acrylic acid), a poly(methacrylic acid), polystyrene sulfonate, a polyacrylamide, or a combination thereof.  Tests of the innovative gels developed by NICHD demonstrate that these gels have properties similar to, e.g., human cartilage – including load-bearing ability and demonstrating high self-reinforcement. The special properties of these gels also render them suitable for drug release to the intestines and other organs.  

Researchers at NICHD are open to the possibility of a wide variety of collaborative and licensing relationships. Possibilities include a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) as well as non-exclusive or exclusive license agreements.  NICHD is eager to transfer rights in these technologies to responsible commercial partners who will diligently move therapeutics towards commercialization.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Cartilage repair
  • Intervertebral disc repair
  • Drug delivery 
  • Breast implant
  • Highly self-reinforcing as compared to traditional gel materials
  • Wide variety of potential clinical applications

Development Stage:
Basic (Target Identification)


Peter Basser (NICHD)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
Application No. 62/802,885
Application No. 16/783,494

Collaboration Opportunity:

Licensing and research collaboration

Licensing Contact:
John Hewes, Ph.D.
Phone: 240-276-5515

OTT Reference No: E-014-2019
Updated: Oct 27, 2020