Responses of biological tissues to mechanical stress are increasingly assessed, owing to their demonstrated link to many biological functions and the onset and progression of various pathologies such as fibrosis or ischemia.
The study of these phenomena implies the need of new technologies enabling concomitant stimulation and characterization of the tissue. Materials that can be tuned by an external stimulus have been thus increasingly assessed for applications linked to biology. Among them, stimuli-responsive hydrogels are essential, owing to their naturally high content of water.
In this topic, the GELLIGHT project aims at developing biocompatible hydrogels, the stiffness of which can be reversibly tuned by light and which will be used as active sample holders for photonic microscopy of 3D-cultured cardiac cells. For this, dual chemical and reversible physical (based on host-guest interactions) crosslinking will be used and the biological tissue encapsulated directly inside the hydrogels.
This project will lead to the development of new visible-responsive hydrogel formulations, which will open applications for soft actuators for biology or responsive drug delivery systems. It will also provide new tools to simultaneously manipulate and observe biological tissue. This is expected to constitute a basis for next generation mechanobiology set-ups with a diversification of the studied pathologies.