Sponges composed of sodium alginate and chitosan were prepared via a freeze drying process in order to assess the utility of mixed sponges as potential wound dressings or matrices for tissue engineering. Sponge preparation involved dissolving both polymers (either individually or mixed) in 1% acetic acid and freeze-drying the corresponding solutions. The mechanical properties of the sponges were assessed using texture analysis and the microstructure examined using scanning electron microscopy. The dissolution of a model drug (paracetamol) from the sponges was assessed as a function of polysaccharide composition. It was noted that the sponges had a flexible yet strong texture, as assessed macroscopically. Measurement of the resistance to compression (‘hardness’) indicated that the chitosan sponges were the ‘hardest’ while the alginate sponges showed the least resistance to compression, with all sponges showing a high degree of recovery. In contrast, the breaking force (tensile force) of the sponges were greatest for the single component systems, while the elongation prior to breaking was similar for each material. SEM studies indicated that the mixed systems had a less well-defined microstructure than the single component sponges. This was ascribed to the two polysaccharides interacting in aqueous solution via coulombic forces, leading to a more randomly ordered network being formed on freezing. Dissolution studies indicated that systems containing chitosan alone showed the slowest release profile, with the mixed systems showing a relatively rapid dissolution profile. The use of chitosan and alginates together, therefore, appears to allow the formulator to manipulate both the mechanical properties and the drug release properties of the sponges.
- Texture analysis