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Opportunities for Multicomponent Hybrid Hydrogels in Biomedical Applications

Lau, Hang Kuen, Kiick, Kristi L.
Biomacromolecules 2015 v.16 no.1 pp. 28-42
antineoplastic agents, biocompatible materials, chemical elements, gene therapy, hydrogels, mechanical properties, neoplasms, tissue engineering
Hydrogels provide mechanical support and a hydrated environment that offer good cytocompatibility and controlled release of molecules, and myriad hydrogels thus have been studied for biomedical applications. In the past few decades, research in these areas has shifted increasingly to multicomponent hydrogels that better capture the multifunctional nature of native biological environments and that offer opportunities to selectively tailor materials properties. This review summarizes recent approaches aimed at producing multicomponent hydrogels, with descriptions of contemporary chemical and physical approaches for forming networks, and of the use of both synthetic and biologically derived molecules to impart desired properties. Specific multicomponent materials with enhanced mechanical properties are presented, as well as materials in which multiple biological functions are imparted for applications in tissue engineering, cancer treatment, and gene therapies. The progress in the field suggests significant promise for these approaches in the development of biomedically relevant materials.