A new report by Massive Science highlights a study published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces describing hybrid aerogels. These ultra-light scaffolds can support tissue and bone growth, drug delivery, and impart wound-healing properties.
According to Massive Science, the materials are made half of proteins, which are eventually broken down by the body, and the other half is silica, "slowly melts away as orthosilicic acid," which reportedly hastens wound healing. Their pore size can be controlled during the manufacturing process, making it easy to adapt them to different uses. They are also being tested as drug delivery systems.
The article abstract explained the drivers behind the development of the material. "Due to the synergic feature of individual components in hybrid (nano)biomaterials, their application in regenerative medicine has drawn significant attention. Aiming to address all the current challenges of aerogel as a potent scaffold in bone tissue engineering application, we adopted a novel synthesis approach to synergistically improve the pore size regime and mechanical strength in the aerogel."
The aerogel scaffold was synthesized through a one-pot, aqueous-based sol-gel hybridization/assembly of organosilane (tetraethyl orthosilicate) and silk fibroin (SF) biopolymer. The was followed by unidirectional freeze-casting of the as-prepared hybrid gel and supercritical drying. The resulting ultralight silica-SF aerogel hybrid reportedly demonstrated a "hierarchically organized porous structure with interesting honeycomb-shaped micromorphology and microstructural alignment (anisotropy) in varied length scales."
For more information, see the ACS study.