Hydrogel-elastomer composite biomaterials: 3. Effects of gelatin molecular weight and type on the preparation and physical properties of interpenetrating polymer networks

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To optimize the preparation of a gelatin-HydroThaneTM Interpenetrating Polymer Network (IPN) and obtain optimum physical properties for its use as a wound dressing, we studied IPN films prepared with two types of gelatin having different molecular weights. The effects of the gelatin molecular weight and type on the IPN film's structure, morphology, swelling and mechanical properties were determined. While FTIR did not reveal any noticeable differences between the IPNs prepared using different gelatin, light microscopy showed a lesser phase separation of the film prepared with a high-molecular-weight type A gelatin. Furthermore, these films displayed slightly less swelling, higher strength and lower strain, compared to the IPNs prepared with either low-molecular-weight type A or type B gelatin. The IPN prepared with type B gelatin showed higher swelling in serum-containing medium than those prepared with type A gelatin, because of its ionic charges under the condition. Increases in viscosity were observed with increasing molecular weight, type A being more viscous than type B gelatin despite having a lower bloom number. The viscosity of the high-molecular-weight gelatin was in the same magnitude as that of HydroThaneTM, which might lead to less phase separation. A better understanding of the effects of alterations in the gelatin molecular weight and type on the formation and properties of the gelatin-HydroThaneTM IPN should facilitate the development of promising composite biomaterials for wound dressing applications.

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