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Stimuli-Responsive Materials for Controlled Release of Theranostic Agents



Stimuli-responsive materials are so named because they can alter their physicochemical properties and/or structural conformations in response to specific stimuli. The stimuli can be internal, such as physiological or pathological variations in the target cells/tissues, or external, such as optical and ultrasound radiations. In recent years, these materials have gained increasing interest in biomedical applications due to their potential for spatially and temporally controlled release of theranostic agents in response to the specific stimuli. This article highlights several recent advances in the development of such materials, with a focus on their molecular designs and formulations. The future of stimuli-responsive materials will also be explored, including combination with molecular imaging probes and targeting moieties, which could enable simultaneous diagnosis and treatment of a specific disease, as well as multi-functionality and responsiveness to multiple stimuli, all important in overcoming intrinsic biological barriers and increasing clinical viability.