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Nowald, Constantin; Penk, Anja; Chiu, Hsin-Yi; Bein, Thomas; Huster, Daniel; Lieleg, Oliver (2016): A Selective Mucin/Methylcellulose Hybrid Gel with Tailored Mechanical Properties. In: Macromolecular Bioscience, Vol. 16, No. 4: pp. 567-579
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Mucin glycoproteins are key components of native mucus which serves as an initial barrier in the human body against microbial attack. Mucins are able to prevent bacterial adhesion and can trap viruses. However, the weak mechanical properties of mucin solutions have so far prevented their application in a physiological environment. Here, methylcellulose biopolymers are used as mechanical adjuvants to overcome this limitation and generate a thermoresponsive mucin/methylcellulose hybrid system. The hybrid material developed combines the selective permeability properties brought about by mucins with the thermal autogelation properties of methylcellulose. As a consequence, triggered by contact with body-warm surfaces, the hybrid material rapidly forms a gel at physiological conditions, and this external temperature stimulus can also be harnessed to stimulate drug release from incorporated thermosensitive liposomes. Finally, the hybrid gel selectively retards the release of embedded molecules which can be used to further control and prolong drug release from the material.