*WINNER* Role of Nanocellulose Hydrogels in Regenerative Medicine: Preliminary Observations
Hydrogels in regenerative medicine applications is a growing field. The similarities of the material characteristic and properties e.g., permeability, biocompatibility, and high-water content of hydrogels and the structure of a natural tissue make them attractive materials to mimic the environment of extra cellular matrix (ECM). Therefore, they are plying an increasing role in tissue engineering, cellular therapy, microfluidic devices, and 3D bioprinting. Furthermore, hydrogels allow scientists to study disease outside the body by developing cellular representative systems for human diseases, drug testing. Incorporating nanomaterials as "fillers" into hydrogels to obtain nanocomposite hydrogel scaffolds seems encouraging as an individual material might lack or have limited characteristics to a certain functionality. Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) based hydrogels are very promising materials as scaffolds for many regenerative medicine applications, due to their biocompatibility, renewable raw material nature, and hydrophilicity. The goal of this study is to synthesize CNC-polyacrylamide gels containing varying concentrations of CNCs and investigate the influence of CNCs on the microstructural and rheological properties of polyacrylamide nanocomposite gels. Thus, CNC-polyacrylamide gels will be considered in this study as a potential material for tissue engineering applications. Details about preparation and characterization of these nanocomposite hydrogels will be discussed.