In many vitreal diseases, the surgeon removes the natural vitreous and replaces it with silicone oils, gases, or balanced salt solutions to fill the eyeball and hold the retina in position. However, these materials are often associated with complications and have properties that differ from natural vitreous. Herein, we report an extension of our previous work on the synthesis of a biomimetic hydrogel that is composed of thiolated gellan as an analogue of type II collagen and poly(methacrylamide-co-methacrylate-co-bis(methacryloyl)cystamine), a polyelectrolyte, as an analogue of hyaluronic acid. This thermosensitive hydrogel can be injected into the eye as a viscous solution at 45 °C. It then forms a physical gel in situ when it reaches body temperature, and later forms disulfide covalent crosslinks. In this article, we evaluated two different formulations of the biomimetic hydrogels for their physical, mechanical, and optical properties, and we determined their biocompatibility with several cell lines. Finally, we report on the progress of the four-month preclinical evaluation of our bio-inspired vitreous substitute in comparison to silicone oil or a balanced salt solution. We assessed the eyes with a slit-lamp examination, intraocular pressure measurements, electroretinography, and optical coherence tomography. Preliminary results are very encouraging for the continuing evaluation of our bio-inspired hydrogel in clinical trials.
- Sol-gel transition