We present a new approach that attempts to address some of these issues through the application of organic sol-gel chemistry. Here, materials are prepared via polymer network formation in solution, with polymerization-induced phase-separation giving rise to fully open, interconnected pore networks. Both polyester and polyurethane chemistries are explored, with materials analyzed via mercury intrusion porosimetry, scanning electron microscopy, dynamic mechanical analysis and cell culture studies with NIH 3T3 mouse fibroblasts.
First, we briefly review our past work to show that porous polymer networks with a range of compositions may be produced via this technique, pore size and porosity may be varied independent of composition, and cytocompatibility may be achieved with an appropriate combination of structure and composition . Second, we demonstrate that the cytocompatible pore structures of natural porous bodies may be replicated in our sol-gel systems via a modified replamineform process . Finally, we show that useful shape-memory characteristics and therapeutic agents may be incorporated into these scaffolds via appropriate compositional choices. In sum, we believe that this approach may be promising as a simple and versatile means of producing multifunctional tissue engineering scaffolds and better understanding their performance.
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