Dynamic supramolecular hydrogelators
A biomedical perspective
Supramolecular hydrogels as opposed to polymeric systems are intrinsically dynamic because of their non-covalent nature, which give them distinct advantages in biomedical applications that require adaptive and responsive materials. The ease of chemical functionalization and well-defined supramolecular structures allow excellent control over morphology, display of chemical cues, drug encapsulation, and responsiveness, and makes them ideally suited for application as scaffold for cell growth and tissue engineering, and as platform for drug delivery and injectable therapeutics.
‘Science for society’ is the motto of the biomedical industry. Hydrogels have been in the biomedical arena for more than 50 years in numerous applications including but not limited to contact lenses, electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, drug delivery systems, cell culture platforms, wound dressings, and personal hygiene products (1-2). A typical hydrogelator consists of a three-dimensional cross-linked network of natural or synthetic compounds, with water and solutes occupying the interstitial space. The coexistence of a cross-linked network structure and a liquid make the gels macroscopically behave as viscoelastic solids with a finite yield stress while preserving the liquid character at the microscopic level. At typically 99 percent water by weight, they offer excellent biocompatibility and integration into biological systems. The aqueous reservoir offers numerous opportunities to carry and release payload while the viscoelastic properties make them pliable and mimic natural tissues in many ways.
Synthetic polymeric hydrogels with highly defined chemical composition and microstructure have rapidly progressed in the past de ...