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Physical and mechanical properties of thermosensitive xanthan/collagen-inspired protein composite hydrogels

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journal contribution
posted on 30.11.2015 by Thao T. H. Pham, Frank Snijkers, Ingeborg M. Storm, Frits A. de Wolf, Martien A. Cohen Stuart, Jasper van der Gucht


Functionalization of xanthan hydrogels is of interest for biomaterial applications. The authors report characterization of electrostatic complexation of xanthan with a recombinant collagen-inspired triblock protein polymer. This polymer has one charged polylysine end-block that can bind to xanthan by electrostatic interactions, and another end-block that can self-assemble into thermosensitive collagen-like triple helices; the end-blocks are connected by a neutral, hydrophilic, mostly inert random coil. The protein modifies the xanthan/protein composite hydrogels in three ways: (a) a significant increase in storage modulus, (b) thermosensitivity, and (c) a two-step strain softening in nonlinear rheology.