PepGel: Advanced Hydrogel Technology Platform in 3D Cell Culture

In the most modern “biotech” terms, hydrogel technology is a very promising field that accurately mimics the in-vivo cell culture in a microenvironment. However, the existing hydrogel products are limited by their biophysical requirements, which causes extremely long and complex sample preparation (1-2 hours) and low data reproducibility. Exploiting the platform of hydrogel technology is PepGel, a research and pre-clinical product company that delivers novel capabilities of hydrogel technology to the biotech industry. “We manipulate our pure synthetic peptide based product, to provide the required biophysical properties—neutral pH and ready-to-use at room temperature— which greatly reduces the experiment time from long hours to a few minutes and leads to a stable platform to generate reproducible data,” says Tim Fealey, CEO at PepGel.

Though a start-up, PepGel’s reason for being is to provide cell culture ‘tools’ for researchers and institutions, addressing the unmet needs of the advance cell culture and medical applications. PepGel’s flagship product, PGmatrix is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool for in-vitro 3D cell culture with high-throughput screening and accurate in-vivo prediction for life science research and development. “Our PGmatrix hydrogel has been successfully used for many different types of cells— cancer cells, stem cells, liver cell, skin cell, and islet cell,” says Fealey. For instance, a group from a cancer research center used hydrogel PGmatrix for conducting cell invasion. This enabled them to receive an overall reliable reproductive result for the assessment. Also, in an ongoing animal stem cell experiment, “a user passed the cells over 30 times in our gel, over a period of more than three months, without change in the pluripotent properties of the cells,” Fealey claims.

Improve results and discovery using PepGel's natural cell culture hydrogel

PGmatrix cell culture kit comes in a variety of gel strengths and sizes, making it adaptable and user-friendly to various medical purposes. This greatly improves lab productivity and lowers research cost.
CIO VendorTim Fealey, CEO
It enables easy cell encapsulation, “as our hydrogel provides a natural living environment for 3D cell culture and specifically an ambient physiological condition,” says Fealey. “The sheer thinning property of our hydrogel enables easy cell capture via filtration, and while not unique to synthetic protein systems, though our patents cover this field, it is found in many other bio-materials and chemical formulations,” he adds.

PepGel’s platform technology is a novel self-healing hydrogel that easily transforms into a liquid and just as easily transforms back into gel. This repeatable process can be explained in a thermodynamic sense, when a quick shake of the container destroys the non-covalent bonds that set up the gel, the gel becomes liquid—water-like and can be conveyed via pipette or another device. It then can be transported for whatever use, before re-assembling to a gel state. “We believe this property provides users many benefits and application opportunities such as reliable and reproducible cell capture without damage, injection into target location without leaking and damaging surrounding tissue, and sustainable release control,” says Fealey. These will be especially important for high value applications, such as drug toxicity screening, and other areas including cell therapy and regenerative medical applications. A rather unique use is as an injectable hemostatic agent, as the gel can be transported and conveyed via even the smallest needle, and thus can address broad applications in blood flow and topical wound management.

In the upcoming years, PepGel hopes that their PGmatrix product line will continue to be the preferred source of cell culture media for useful application from basic research to a variety of medical devices in partnership with collaborators worldwide. “We recognize that we will need to broaden our profile to enable use of PGmatrix in automatics and improve our supply chain cost structure,” concludes Fealey.


Manhattan, KS

Tim Fealey, CEO

A company delivering the novel capabilities of hydrogel to support cell culture research and medical device applications to the life science industry.