Nanostructured Hydrogel Implants for Post Lumpectomy Patients
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Breast cancer patients encounter several complications while undergoing the lumpectomy procedure. Modified Pluronics possessing the ability to crosslink can function as implants for post lumpectomy patients. In this project, the tri-block copolymer, Pluronic F127, a member of the Pluronics copolymers, has been chemically modified by introducing vinyl groups at the terminal ends of the polymer chain. The modified copolymer is cross-linkable by UV irradiation and forms a soft, tough gel with mechanical properties comparable to native human breast tissue. The polymer can be engineered to replicate the physical and mechanical properties of the human breast tissue. This can be done by varying the block length and block ratio as well as the extent of cross-linking, which can be achieved by altering the irradiation time, the polymer concentration and the concentration of the photo-initiator. The gel possesses both hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains that can be utilized to incorporate additional agents as required. The constituents of the gel and the cross-linked gel have been tested for cytotoxicity with the preadipocyte cell line. With the incorporation of growth factors and other proteins, the cross-linked Pluronics have a potential to be used as a scaffold for regeneration of the native breast tissue while undergoing in vivo degradation.