Tragacanth gum (TG) is a natural gum whose biomedical applications are limited because of the low water solubility and the possibility to form only weak water-insoluble gels. An innovative method to produce water-soluble tragacanth (WST) is assessed in this work. WST structural characterization indicates a high-molecular weight polyuronic acid, which can undergo gelling by ionotropic complexation. Biological characterization shows no cytotoxicity on Hela, HepG2, and L929 cell lines. Furthermore, TG-based and WST-based gel beads prepared by ionic crosslinking with ferric and zinc ions are studied. Ferric WST gels exerted better cell adhesion with L929 cells than ferric alginate gels. These characteristics make WST a promising candidate for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications.
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