Injectable, thermoresponsive hydrogels are promising candidates for the delivery, maintenance and controlled release of adoptive cell therapies. Therefore, there is significant interest in the development of cytocompatible and biodegradable thermoresponsive hydrogels with appropriate gelling characteristics. Towards this end, a series of thermoresponsive copolymers consisting of poly(caprolactone) (PCL), poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) and poly(propylene glycol) (PPG) segments, with various PEG:PPG ratios, were synthesised via ring-opening polymerisation (ROP) of ε-caprolactone and epoxy-functionalised PEG and PPG derivatives. The resultant PCL–PEG–PPG copolymers were characterised via proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) spectroscopy, gel permeation chromatography (GPC) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). The thermoresponsive characteristics of the aqueous copolymer solutions at various concentrations was investigated using the inversion method. Whilst all of the copolymers displayed thermoresponsive properties, the copolymer with a ratio of 1:2 PEG:PPG exhibited an appropriate sol–gel transition (28 °C) at a relatively low concentration (10 wt%), and remained a gel at 37 °C. Furthermore, the copolymers were shown to be enzymatically degradable in the presence of lipases and could be used for the encapsulation of CD4+ T-cell lymphocytes. These results demonstrate that the thermoresponsive PCL–PEG–PPG hydrogels may be suitable for use as an adoptive cell therapy (ACT) delivery vehicle.
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