Di-functional Hyaluronic Acid for Tissue Engineering


Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a polysaccharide that is expressed in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of all vertebrate tissues, contributing to the development of cells in tissue.  HA based hydrogels are useful tools in tissue engineering as the HA can be modified with bioactive peptides to facilitate the growth, differentiation and attachment of stem cells and other cell types.  Researchers at UTHealth have developed a novel di-functional HA, which possesses two independent functional groups that can be used for crosslinking for gelation and bioactive signal tethering.  This di-functional HA provides greater ability to customize the hydrogel, generating a scaffold that more closely mimics the natural microenvironment for the desired tissue engineering applications.


Due to the important role that HA plays in cell growth and development, HA has been implemented as a tool in many areas of regenerative medicine, including central nervous system repair and wound healing.  The use of HA modified with a single bioactive peptide is common in tissue engineering scaffolds, but the ability to customize the scaffold is limited by the single modification site present on HA.  The newly developed di-functional HA (Dif-HA) provides two unique modification sites which can be used for tethering bioactive molecules and establishing inter-hydrogel crosslinks. The ability to tether bioactive signaling molecules is necessary to develop an ECM that can best promote cell development and regeneration, such as after injury to the central nervous system. 


Stage of Development

The Dif-HA backbone has been tested in mice and is able to support neural maturation and growth. Dif-HA has been successfully modified with bioactive peptides to promote neural differentiation, axon extension, and growth. 

Intellectual Property Status

•             Patent application pending

•             Portfolio available for licensing



J. Mater. Chem. B, 2016,4, 6865-6875


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Patent Information:

The preceding is intended to be a non-confidential and limited description of a novel technology created at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). This promotional material is not comprehensive in scope and should not replace company’s diligence in a thorough evaluation of the technology. Please contact the Office of Technology Management for more information regarding this technology.
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Hannah Nelson
Senior Technology License Associate
University of Texas Health Science Center At Houston
Laura Smith Callahan
Hyun ju Lim
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