Sterilization of clinically active hydrogels: looking for efficient strategies

Sterilization is a mandatory step to reduce the risks of infection and inflammation of implanted biomaterials. Medical devices made of hydrogels are usually sterilized using conventional methods such as exposition to gamma radiation, steam or chemical agents, which may lead to the formation of toxic residues and changes of the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of the materials. Therefore, new reproducible and safe methods of sterilization, that can be used post-manufacture without compromising the materials properties, are needed. Sterilization of drug loaded hydrogels is even more challenging, since besides the hydrogel, it must be taken into account the maintenance of the drug integrity and the suitability of the drug release profile for the intended purposes.

The STEReoSTRAT project (PTDC/CTM-BIO/3640/2014, start July 2016), supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), aims to study the effect of conventional and new sterilization methods on the properties and performance of drug loaded hydrogels for biomedical applications. It involves the optimization of the sterilization procedures, as well as the modification of the hydrogels, in order to increase their resistance to eventual noxious effects of sterilization and guarantee an adequate drug release behavior. Integrated methodologies, that include all production steps (preparation + modification + sterilization) to obtain new efficient and safe therapeutic hydrogels, will be developed.

To achieve the project purposes, a multidisciplinary team of young and experienced researchers with complementary skills/expertise in areas like materials engineering, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering and pharmaceutical sciences, from Portuguese and Brazilian Universities and Companies, is working in straight collaboration.

Find out more about this project in the next pages.

Ana Paula Serro - Principal Investigator