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Injectable Nanoclay Gels for Angiogenesis

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Document pages: 38 pages

Abstract: The retention and sustained activity of therapeutic proteins at delivery sites are goals of regenerative medicine. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has significant potential in promoting the growth and regeneration of blood vessels but is intrinsically labile. This is exacerbated by the inflammatory microenvironments at sites requiring regeneration. For VEGF to be efficacious it may require a carrier that stabilises it, protects it from degradation and retains it at a site of interest. In this study we tested the hypothesis that injectable nanoclay gels composed of Laponite XLGTM can stabilise VEGF and retain it in active form for therapeutic delivery. To achieve this, VEGF was incorporated in Laponite gels and its activity tested at a range of concentrations using in vitro cell culture tubulogenesis assays and in vivo angiogenesis assays. We found that VEGF-Laponite gels enhanced tubulogenesis in a dose-dependent manner in vitro. When administered subcutaneously in vivo Laponite was retained at an injection site for up to a period of three weeks and promoted a 4-fold increase in blood vessel formation compared with alginate or vehicle controls as confirmed by CD31 staining. Notably, in contrast to alginate, Laponite gels did not release VEGF, indicating a strong interaction between the growth factor and the nanoclay, and suggesting that Laponite enhancement of VEGF efficacy is due to its retention at an implantation site over a prolonged period. Our approach provides a robust method for delivery of bioactive recombinant VEGF without the necessity for complex hydrogel or protein engineering.

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