We have prepared sugar-based hydrogels using a chemoenzymatic synthetic approach. Specifically, the regioselectivity of enzymes was used to prepare sugar acrylate monomers. These monomers were polymerized with a crosslinker in a standard free radical polymerization. The polymers consist of a polyacrylate backbone with sucrose, (α-methyl glucoside, or β-methyl galactoside pendant groups. These materials are highly water absorbent swelling to more than 100 times their initial weight when placed in water. The degree of swelling for poly(β-methyl galactoside 6-acrylate) hydrogel was relatively insensitive to pH (from pH 4.5-9) and ionic strength (0.15-3 M NaCl). Potential applications of these materials include waterabsorbents and drug delivery systems.
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