Semester of Graduation

Spring 2019


Master of Science (MS)



Document Type



The extracellular environment plays an important role in regulating cell behavior. The mechanical, structural, and compositional properties of the extracellular matrix can determine the fate of the growing cells. Standard two-dimensional culturing in a flask fails to represent a native cellular environment. To create the native environment suitable for cells, hydrogels were previously studied. One of the most extensively studied synthetic hydrogels was a poly(ethylene glycol diacrylate) (PEGDA) hydrogel. However, the need for UV polymerization may introduce unwanted changes in cell morphology and viability. The hydrogel being proposed was a form of a thiol-acrylate hydrogel that can eliminate this problem and can easily be modified to approximate a native cellular environment. To be more specific, it was a PEGDA (700 MW) and ethoxylated trimethylolpropane tri(3-mercaptopropionate) (ETMPTMP 1300 MW) hydrogel, through thiol-Michael addition instead of thiol-ene radical polymerization. This thiol-acrylate hydrogel was evaluated for its swelling behavior, degradation behavior, and elastic modulus. The hydrogel was then used to encapsulate breast cancer cells to determine the effect on the viability of the cells and on-chip microfluidics. The breast cancer cell lines used for viability testing and microfluidics were MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7. All experiments were done at pH 7.4 and kept at 37.1°C.



Committee Chair

Pojman, John