Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Hydrogel-encapsulated microbubbles for improved cartilage tissue engineering

Technology #2630

While tissue engineering strategies promise improved treatment options for patients suffering from osteoarthritis, the successful in vitro development of anatomically-sized tissue grafts has been impeded in large part by the inability to provide adequate nutrient exchange to cells embedded within 3D tissue engineering scaffolds. An ideal scaffold design would allow for uniform nutrient distribution while maintaining adequate pore size and structure to ensure physical stability of the engineered tissue. This technology employs gas-filled microbubbles to enable synthesis of hydrogel scaffolds with uniform micropores that can facilitate efficient nutrient diffusion for improved cell response and more robust tissue formation.

A biocompatible method for forming scaffolds with superior nutrient transport to support tissue growth

Current techniques for formation of microporous scaffolds suffer from cell-incompatibility or constraints on inducible pore size. In contrast, this technology utilizes the controlled dissolution of biocompatible gas-filled microbubbles to produce porous hydrogel scaffolds. Gas-filled microbubbles, formed by emulsification of a lipid solution with a hydrophobic gas, are mixed with a molten agarose solution to form hydrogel scaffolds with uniformly distributed sub-cellular sized micropores. Microbubble size and concentration can be controlled to modulate nutrient diffusivity and scaffold physical properties. This technique has been shown to yield porous scaffolds thatl support a two-fold increase in mechanical properties of engineered cartilage tissue compared to traditional bubble-free hydrogels.

Lead Inventor:

Mark Borden, Ph.D.


  • Scaffolds for cartilage and other tissue engineering (e.g. bone, muscle, skin)
  • Growth factor carriers
  • Drug and gene delivery vehicles
  • Blood substitutes
  • Ultrasound contrast agent


  • Improves effective diffusivity of nutrients
  • Size and concentration of microbubbles can be controlled
  • Allows for uniform distribution of microbubbles and resulting pores
  • Can be incorporated into standard protocols for hydrogel scaffold fabrication
  • Biocompatible method

Patent Information:

Patent Issued (US 8,617,892)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR 2630

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