Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Chemical Engineering

Research Sponsor

Dr. Nic Leipzig

First Reader

Dr. Bi-min Zhang Newby

Second Reader

Dr. George Chase


This study was performed to improve the release of proteins from hydrogels in order to increase their effectiveness in treating spinal cord injuries. Heparin, which has the ability to bind to proteins and slow their release, underwent methacrylation, was added to prepared methacrylamide chitosan (MAC) solutions with a model protein (SDF-1α) and photopolymerized to create MAC-heparin hydrogels. Varying weight percentages of methacrylated heparin were tested in order to determine the optimal amount needed to improve the release profile. The pure MAC hydrogels and gels with 10 wt% heparin had a rapid release of the SDF-1α (>23% and >29%, respectively, in the first six hours), while those gels that contained 20 wt% and 30 wt% heparin had a relatively slower release of the protein (9% and 11.6%, respectively). The four variants of hydrogels had relatively uniform release profiles after the initial release for the duration of three weeks, excluding the gel with 30 wt% heparin which degraded after eight days. These results show that, in certain amounts, methacrylated heparin can be used to positively affect the release of proteins from MAC hydrogels, greatly decreasing the amount released initially and maintaining a steady and uniform release for an extended period.