Heart disease is a major clinical problem and post myocardial infarction (MI), left ventricular (LV) remodeling ensues and leads to geometric changes that result in dilation and thinning of the myocardial wall. This increases stress in the infarct and healthy tissue and can ultimately result in heart failure. Injectable biomaterials are being investigated to address this clinical problem, including to alter stresses in the infarct region when injected and to deliver biologics, such as stem cells and biomolecules. My laboratory is interested in a class of hydrogels based on the molecule hyaluronic acid (HA) and we have synthesized variations of HA macromers that form hydrogels with a range of mechanical properties and degradation (from a few weeks to stable over many months). This tunability in properties allows us to investigate how material properties (e.g., mechanics and degradation) influence the ability of injectable HA hydrogels to alter stress profiles and LV remodeling and to deliver therapeutic molecules (e.g., TIMP-3, to alter matrix remodeling within infarcts). Most recently, we have designed hydrogels that only degrade in the presence of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) to introduce a feedback mechanism for on-demand release of inhibitors of the same MMPs. Finally, to permit delivery of hydrogels via catheters, we have developed a class of shear-thinning and self-assembling hydrogels that can be used for the delivery of mechanical signals, as well as cells and therapeutics.
Jason A. Burdick, PhD, is a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Burdick’s research involves the development of hydrogels for various biological applications and his laboratory is specifically interested in understanding and controlling polymers on a molecular level to control overall macroscopic properties. The applications of his research range from controlling stem cell differentiation through material cues to fabricating scaffolding for regenerative medicine and tissue repair. Dr. Burdick currently has more than 160 peer-reviewed publications, and he has received a K22 Scholar Development and Career Transition Award through the National Institutes of Health, an Early Career Award through the Coulter Foundation, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, a Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and an American Heart Association Established Investigator Award. He is on the editorial boards of Tissue Engineering, Biomacromolecules, and the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research A. He was recently appointed associate editor for ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.