Responsive Hydrogel Systems to Regulate pH of Breast Cancer Tumor Microenvironment


The acidification of cancer microenvironments is a well-known characteristic of solid tumors. Our novel hydrogel systems restore pH homeostasis by reducing pH levels within the tumor, thereby limiting drug resistance and metastasis.

Market Opportunity

Solid tumors grow faster than the blood supply to them, causing formation of a microenvironment within the tumor. This increases production of metabolic acids, decreasing pH levels outside the tumor cells while increasing pH levels inside the cells. Therefore, a potential strategy for treating cancer is to neutralize the pH in the tumor environment.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages

Our novel bicarbonate-modified Gellan and PEG hydrogels regulate the pH of their surrounding solution. We have demonstrated their ability to regulate an engineered acidic tumor microenvironment by increasing its pH level. An in vitro study shows that the PEGDA hydrogels loaded with sodium bicarbonate significantly improved the chemotherapeutic efficacy of doxorubicin. Our results point the way to the development of a simple, effective, and biocompatible cancer treatment using bicarbonate-modified hydrogels.

In a nonmedical context, our hydrogels have the potential to contribute to renewable energy through the production of hydrogen. Energy generated by burning hydrogen is perhaps most relevant to the auto industry, where switching from the gasoline engine to hydrogen power requires little change to the industry infrastructure.

Collaboration Opportunity

We are interested in exploring 1) startup opportunities with investors; 2) research collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies; and 3) licensing opportunities with companies.

Principal Investigator

Vikas Srivastava, PhD

Assistant Professor of Engineering

Brown University

IP Information

US Utility US 2022-0313714 A1, Published August 6, 2022


Melissa Simon, PhD

Director of Business Development

Brown Tech ID 3140


Contact Information

TTO Home Page:

Name: Melissa Simon

Title: Director of Business Development

Department: BTI