The Fall 2021 issue of the Lehigh alumni Bulletin features a schematic illustrating the work of Kelly Schultz, an associate professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Nan Wu, a chemical engineering PhD student. They are studying an emerging hydrogel material that could help researchers develop new and more effective methods for delivering drugs taken orally. Covalent adaptable hydrogels (CAHs) have the capacity to degrade and spontaneously re-gel in a person’s gastrointestinal tract.
To characterize the material and provide insight into their pharmaceutical potential, Wu repurposed a microfluidic device originally developed in Schultz’s lab for research into fabric and home care products. She was able to exchange the fluid environment around the gel to mimic the pH environment of organs in the GI tract, simulating how the material would react if ingested.
“A great deal of mystery lies between designing a material and understanding what’s going on when it’s working,” Schultz says. “We’re trying to find new ways that we can replicate what’s going on inside of an animal or a person and collect important measurements to connect the dots and inform further studies.”
View the full schematic in the Lehigh University News Center.
Illustration by Bratislav Milenkovic