Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Intelligent Polymer Research Institute


Biomaterials play pivotal roles in tissue engineering, as they can be used to produce scaffolds for tissue formation and serve as functional carriers for drug or cell delivery. The ability to support cell adhesion and tissue adhesion are critical properties of biomaterials to facilitate cell function and integration between implants and host tissues. Mussels can strongly adhere to various substrates due to the abundant catechol groups in the foot proteins. Catechol is reactive with both organic and inorganic substances, which has inspired research into developing catechol-functionalized materials for multiple applications. The adhesion to organic surfaces such as tissues makes catechol-functionalized materials attractive as tissue adhesive. Moreover, the versatile chemistry of catechol provides multiple strategies for producing hydrogels for tissue engineering. The aim of this project is to utilize the catechol chemistry to develop catechol-functionalized biomaterials and exploit their applications in tissue engineering.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) was chosen as the backbone for catechol conjugation mainly attributed to its multiple biological activities. The crosslinking conditions of catechol-functionalized HA (HACA) were optimized, the adhesion, swelling and degradation behaviour of the crosslinked hydrogels were characterized. The HACA-based material demonstrated good adhesion to hydrogels derived from collagen and gelatin that act as a simplified soft tissue model, and to porcine skin tissue. Moreover, it supported culture of a human umbilical vein endothelial cell line (HUV-EC-C) with high cell viability and formation of capillary-like structure. This may bring added benefit by means of promoting angiogenesis, therefore promoting the integration between host tissue and implant. The results indicate that the HACA-based material could be a promising tissue adhesive for multiple internal uses.

FoR codes (2008)

090301 Biomaterials

FoR codes (2020)

3101 Biochemistry and cell biology



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.