Advanced Materials

Combinatorial Polyacrylamide Hydrogels for Preventing Biofouling on Implantable Biosensors

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Biofouling on the surface of implanted medical devices and biosensors severely hinders device functionality and drastically shortens device lifetime. Poly(ethylene glycol) and zwitterionic polymers are currently considered “gold-standard” device coatings to reduce biofouling. To discover novel anti-biofouling materials, a combinatorial library of polyacrylamide-based copolymer hydrogels is created, and their ability is screened to prevent fouling from serum and platelet-rich plasma in a high-throughput parallel assay. It is found that certain nonintuitive copolymer compositions exhibit superior anti-biofouling properties over current gold-standard materials, and machine learning is used to identify key molecular features underpinning their performance. For validation, the surfaces of electrochemical biosensors are coated with hydrogels and their anti-biofouling performance in vitro and in vivo in rodent models is evaluated. The copolymer hydrogels preserve device function and enable continuous measurements of a small-molecule drug in vivo better than gold-standard coatings. The novel methodology described enables the discovery of anti-biofouling materials that can extend the lifetime of real-time in vivo sensing devices.