Dr. Elda Hegmann

“Biodegradable and Biocompatible Liquid Crystal Scaffold"

Hegmann Figure 1

Figure 1: SRS-elastomers, characterization and in vitro tests.

Research in Elda Hegmann's lab focuses on developing thermoset biodegradable Smart Responsive Scaffolds (SRS) elastomers based on star block copolymers (SBCs) using ring opening polymerization of suitable monomers followed by cross-linking to form elastomer materials that enhance attachment and viability (i.e. expansion and differentiation) of cells (including stem cells) while increasing their biomechanical functionality. We synthesize, characterize, and test star-block-copolymers based on liquid crystal functionalized elastomers that respond to external stimuli such as temperature, elastic deformation (stress, strain) and applied electric and magnetic fields with an increase in ordering.

Our easily adjustable, modular design of such SRS liquid crystal elastomers enable us to easily extend this work to smart scaffolds for drug delivery via patches on skin, on internal tissue or tumors, for medical implants, general in vitro or in vivo tissue engineering, and for on-demand treatment of neurological, skin, tissue, organ and bone disorders. Preliminary data from our labs indicates that these type of elastomers are compatible with cell differentiation, growth and survival of cultured neurones and glia. We have shown that cells are viable when grown on elastomers, can differentiate and survive for extended periods (>1 month).

Potential REU students in our lab will focus on widening the scope of our materials to lyotropic liquid crystals to form vesicles for biomedical applications. Related projects with Torsten Hegmann's group will be in the incorporation of nanoparticles to our biocompatible materials as drug delivery systems.

  1. M.E. Prévôt and E. Hegmann. “From biomaterial, biomimetic, and polymer to biodegradable and biocompatible liquid crystal elastomer cell scaffolds”, 2016 submitted.
  2. M.E. Prévôt, S. Ustunel, L.E. Bergquist, R. Cukelj, Y. Gao, T. Mori, R.J. Clements, and E. Hegmann, “Synthesis of Biocompatible Liquid Crystal Elastomer Foams as Cell Scaffolds for 3D Spatial Cell Cultures”, 2016 in press.
  3. A. Sharma, T. Mori, C.J. Mahnen, H.R. Everson, M.T. Leslie, A.D. Nielsen, L. Lussier, C. Zhu, C. Malcuit, T. Hegmann, J.A. McDonough, E.J. Freeman, L.T.J. Korley, R.J. Clements, and E. Hegmann, “Biocompatible liquid crystal elastomers, mechanical properties and cellular response”, 2016 in press.
  4. T. Bera, C. Malcuit, and R.J. Clements, E. Hegmann, “The role of the surfactant during microemulsion photopolymerization for the creation of 3D liquid crystal elastomer microsphere cell scaffolds”, Frontiers in Materials, section Biomaterials, 2016, 3, 31; DOI:10.3389/fmats.2016.00031
  5. Y. Gao, S. Manning, Y. Zhao, A.D. Nielsen, T. Mori, A. Neshat, A. Sharma, C.J. Mahnen, H. Everson, S. Crotty, R.J. Clements, C. Malcuit, and E. Hegmann. “Biocompatible 3D liquid crystal elastomer cell scaffolds and foams with primary and secondary porous architecture”, ACS Macro Lett. 2016, 5, 4-9.
  6. T. Bera, E.J. Freeman, J.A. McDonough, R.J. Clements, A. Aladlaan, C. Malcuit, T. Hegmann, and E. Hegmann. “Liquid crystal elastomer microspheres as 3D cell scaffolds supporting the attachment and proliferation of myoblasts”, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2015, 7, 14528-14535.
  7. B. Tian, W.Y. Wong, E. Hegmann, K. Gaspar, P. Kumar, and H. Chao, “Production and Characterization of a Camelid Single Domain Antibody–Urease Enzyme Conjugate for the Treatment of Cancer”, Bioconjugate Chem. 2015, 26, 1144-1155.
  8. A. Sharma, A. Neshat, C.J. Mahnen, A.D. Nielsen, J. Snyder, T.L. Stankovich, B.G. Daum, E.M. LaSpina, G. Beltrano, Y. Gao, S. Li, B.-W. Park, R.J. Clements, E.J. Freeman, C. Malcuit, J.A. McDonough, L.T.J. Korley, T. Hegmann, and E. Hegmann. “Biocompatible, biodegradable and porous liquid crystal elastomer scaffolds for spatial cell cultures”. Macromol. Biosci. 2015, 15, 200-214. Featured on Materials Views (Link) Also featured as Back Cover, February 2015.