WARF: P02135US

Protein-Polysaccharide Hybrid Hydrogels


Srinivasan Damodaran

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a biodegradable, hybrid protein-polysaccharide hydrogel.
OVERVIEWA hydrogel polymer is a naturally occurring or synthetic material which swells in water or some liquid, retaining a large amount without dissolving. Hydrogels find high volume use as industrial, consumer and environmental absorbents. However, current petroleum-based and other synthetic hydrogels are extremely slow to degrade and may pose serious environmental concerns. Biodegradable, superabsorbent, biomass-derived hydrogels that exhibit reversible swelling and have improved functional qualities, including absorption under load and centrifugal retention capacity, are needed.
THE INVENTIONA UW–Madison researcher has developed a biodegradable, hybrid protein-polysaccharide hydrogel capable of absorbing large volumes of water or other liquids, and retaining the liquid in its structure without dissolving. The hydrogel consists of two matrices: an acylated, cross-linked protein matrix and an anionic polysaccharide matrix. The matrices interpenetrate, resulting in a homogeneous hydrogel with superior saline absorption and retention characteristics as compared to hydrogels fabricated solely from protein matrices.

To form the hybrid hydrogel, the polysaccharide matrix can simply be trapped within the protein matrix, or the two matrices can be covalently cross-linked by bridging moieties. The biodegradable nature of this hybrid hydrogel overcomes problems with current, synthetic hydrogels, which are extremely slow to degrade and may be composed of toxic components.
  • Diapers
  • Menstrual tampons and pads
  • Industrial absorbents
  • Spill dams
  • Sealers
  • Agricultural applications such as water retention and herbicide/pesticide application
  • Capable of absorbing many times its dry weight in water
  • Exhibits superior absorption under load (AUL) and centrifugal retention capacity as compared to hydrogels fabricated solely from protein matrices
  • Biodegradable, avoiding the serious environmental concerns posed by diapers and other products made from synthetic, non-biodegradable, petroleum-based hydrogels
  • Swelling action can be reversed by varying the ionic strength of the water or liquid.
  • Offers variable uptake capacity as desired
  • Exploits the enormous potential of protein biopolymers as structural elements in non-food applications
  • Uses agricultural biomass, the most desirable renewable source of starting materials, preserving petroleum reserves
  • Protein matrix can be synthesized from a wide range of renewable starting materials, including plant, animal and microbial proteins.
  • Anionic polysaccharide can be derived from any source, including alginates, carrageenans, carboxylated starches, carboxy-(C1-C6-alkyl) cellulose, gellans, hyaluronic acid, pectins and xanthans.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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