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Biomaterials for tissue replacement


Cellulosic hydrogels for soft tissue reconstruction, fillers, and plastic surgery applications



Steven B. Nicoll Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering



There is a need for safe, effective biomaterials for dermal implant and filler applications within the medical community for use in tissue reconstruction.  Tissue engineering allows for the control of the resulting shapes and structures in the created biomaterial.  However, the current materials are limited in their ability to immediately correct contour defects, as well as in the duration of the effect.  Permanent implantable materials frequently cause adverse clinical outcomes, including hematomas, edema, scarring, and resorption.



Researchers in the Nicoll lab have developed a novel biomaterial composition and a method for modifying the backbone of methylcellulose, a cellulose derivative polymer, with covalently bound methacrylate groups. A redox initiator system is employed to produce an injectable system that forms 3-D crosslinked hydrogel polymer networks in situ.  The resulting cellulosic hydrogels have tunable properties that can be used for soft tissue repair and filler applications, as well as for plastic and reconstructive surgery.  Small molecules, cells, growth factors, peptides, chemokines, and inorganic compounds can be integrated into these methylcellulose-based hydrogels.  The developed biomaterial has been demonstrated to be non-cytotoxic in co-culture with dermal fibroblasts.  Furthermore, the biomaterial has been implanted subcutaneously in animal models, with safety and maintenance of physicochemical properties demonstrated at 3 months.




•       Made from inexpensive, readily obtained renewable material

•       Injectable formulation that gels in situ administered using minimally invasive procedures

•       Able to maintain shape, composition, and structural integrity in tissue for long time periods

•       Provides immediate bulking and volumizing effect

•       Not enzymatically degradable in humans

•       Biocompatible

•       Non-cytotoxic

•       Tunable physicochemical properties



•       Soft tissue repair, reconstruction, and/or augmentation

•       Soft tissue replacement or filler

•       Plastic and reconstructive surgery

•       Provide cell growth support



Stage of Development

•       In vitro and in vivo data


Intellectual Property

USSN 9,193,948


Reference Media

Lin et al.  J Biomed Mat Res, 2016, 104(1), p. 165-177.

Gold et al.  Carbohydrate Polymers, 2015, 134, p. 497-507.

Varma et al.  Acta Biomat, 2014, 10(12), p. 4996-5004.

Gold et al. J Biomed Mat Res, 2014, 102(12), p. 4536-4544.

Reza et al.  Biotechnol Bioeng, 2010, 105(2), p. 384-395.

Reza et al.  Acta Biomat, 2010, 6(1), p. 179-186.

Stalling et al.  Acta Biomat, 2009, 5(6), p.1911-1918.


Desired partnerships

• License




Download PDF


Docket #  U4847 

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Joshua Jeanson
Associate Director, SEAS/SAS Licensing Group
University of Pennsylvania
Steven Nicoll