Updated: Oct 17
Covalently crosslinked silk fibroin hydrogels have become increasingly popular due to their unique properties, including their elastomeric nature, transparency, and ability to support cell encapsulation. These hydrogels are also compatible with modern biofabrication approaches, making them ideal for use in various biomedical applications.
One of the most exciting aspects of covalently crosslinked silk fibroin hydrogels is that they can be formed without the need for any modification of the polymer chain. This is achieved through di-tyrosine bond formation between tyrosines that are natively found in silk. The reaction can be mediated through three broad strategies: enzymatic-, Fenton reaction-, and photo-initiated crosslinking approaches.
In an upcoming webinar, Dr Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina, an Associate Professor and Heart
Foundation Future Leader Fellow at the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, will discuss the broad utility of ruthenium-based photo-crosslinking of silk for multiple biofabrication approaches and material formats. This will include hydrogels, microgels, granular hydrogels, and lyogels.
Dr Rnjak-Kovacina's research interests are at the interface of biology and engineering. She focuses on the development of novel, biomimetic biomaterial platforms with tunable physical and biological features that direct cellular behavior and function. Her work involves developing biomaterial platforms to study the effects of physical and biological cues on the vascularization of bioengineered tissues and the biological mechanisms underlying this process. She also develops novel functional cardiovascular implant devices, including vascular grafts and cardiac patches.