Print this article

Dynamic supramolecular hydrogelators
A biomedical perspective

corresponding

VINCENT LE SAGE, VASUDEVAN LAKSHMINARAYANAN, EDUARDO MENDES, RIENK EELKEMA, JAN VAN ESCH*
*Corresponding author
Delft University of technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, Advanced Soft Matter, Julianalaan 136, 2628BL Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract

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.


INTRODUCTION

‘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