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July/August 2011

Characterization of Hydrogels

Hydrogels are highly hydrated polymer networks that will play an important role in regenerative medicine over the next decade. The reason for the growth of hydrogels is twofold:

  • Advances in polymer synthesis enable the manufacture of tailored, environmentally sensitive gels and
  • A paradigm shift in tissue engineering toward using the body as a bioreactor to repair itself rather than cultivating tissue in vitro for implantation.

A new ASTM standard will contribute to the study and use of hydrogels. F2900, Guide for Characterization of Hydrogels Used in Regenerative Medicine, was developed by Subcommittee F04.42 on Biomaterials and Biomolecules for TEMPs (tissue engineered medical products), part of ASTM International Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices.

“The move toward using the body as its own bioreactor has resulted in the development of new hydrogel systems that can be injected into wound sites together with cells and growth factors to form self-assembled structures that greatly facilitate healing, the rebuilding of nerves and repair of cartilage,” says Melissa Mather, senior research fellow, Electrical Systems and Optics Research Division, University of Nottingham, and strategic research fellow, materials division, National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, United Kingdom.

“These new materials and new applications of existing formulations will need to be supported by characterization and performance data to ensure batch-batch variability control and to optimize the materials for a particular application.”

Mather notes that there are a number of techniques available for characterizing hydrogels. “E2900 provides a critical overview of these techniques, presenting the information in such a way that it can be easily understood by the multidisciplinary practitioners active in regenerative medicine,” says Mather.


Technical Information: Melissa Mather, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Great Britain

Phone: +011-44-5951-5337

ASTM Staff: Pat Picariello

Phone: 610-832-9720