Biohybrid Hydrogels

Biohybrid Hydrogels


Biohybrid materials combining synthetic and biological building blocks are being developed to mimic the diversity of the ECM. Therefore, our objectives are to design and implement a hybrid gel system incorporating heparin and synthetic star-shaped poly(ethylene-glycol) (star-PEG) which provides tunable material properties (e.g. adjustable mechanical characteristics and hydration) and enhanced biological functions. Key to our approach is the high affinity of heparin for the reversible binding and release of different cytokines and chemokines (e.g. growth factors). Furthermore, through the incorporation of peptide structures as crosslinkers between the two main building blocks (heparin and star-PEG), we are able to non-covalently crosslink the gels in situ, promote cell binding through presentation of adhesion ligand sequences, and control enzyme-mediated degradation.

We collaborate closely with local (Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus of Technische Universität Dresden [TUD] and the Max Planck Institute of Cell Biology and Genetics [MPI-CBG] within the Center of Regenerative Therapies Dresden, CRTD) and partners across Europe (within the Angioscaff-Consortium) to customize and apply the biohybrid materials in new medical therapies.



  • Hydrogele auf PEG-Heparin-Basis zur Stimulation der Angiogenese, DFG 92043
  • KidStem - Developing a Stem Cell Based Therapy to Replace Nephrons Lost Through Reflux Nephropathy (EU)
  • Angioscaff - Angiogenesis-inducing Bioactive and Bioresponsive Scaffolds in Tissue Engineering (EU)

Selected Publications

  1. Zieris, A.; Prokoph, S.; Welzel, P.; Grimmer, M.; Levental, K.; Panyanuwat, W.; Freudenberg, U.; Werner, C.
    Analytical approaches to uptake and release of hydrogel-associated FGF-2 more
    Journal of Materials Science : Materials in Medicine 21 (2010) 915-923

  2. Tsurkan, M.; Levental, K.; Freudenberg, U.; Werner, C.
    Enzymatically degradable heparin-polyethylene glycol gels with controlled mechanical properties more
    Chemical Communications 46 (2010) 1141-1143

  3. Welzel, P.; Nitschke, M.; Freudenberg, U.; Zieris, A.; Götze, T.; Valtink, M.; Engelmann, K.; Werner, C. :
    Polymer Hydrogels to Enable New Medical Therapies more
    Springer 6 (2009) 249-266

  4. Freudenberg, U.; Hermann, A.; Welzel, P.; Stirl, K.; Schwarz, S.; Grimmer, M.; Zieris, A.; Panyanuwat, W.; Zschoche, St.; Meinhold, D.; Storch, A.; Werner, C.
    A starPEG-heparin hydrogel platform to aid cell replacement therapies for neurodegenerative diseases more
    Biomaterials 30 (2009) 5049-5060

Biohybrid Hydrogels
Biohybrid Hydrogels


Institute of Biofunctional Polymer Materials

Matrix Engineering

Biohybrid Hydrogels