Advanced Materials

Hydrogels in Biology and Medicine: From Molecular Principles to Bionanotechnology

Authors

  • N. A. Peppas,

    1. Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Bionanotechnology and Molecular Recognition Laboratories, Departments of Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Pharmaceutics, The University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-0231, USA
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  • J. Z. Hilt,

    1. Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0046, USA
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  • A. Khademhosseini,

    1. Harvard–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Division of Health Science and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
    2. Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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  • R. Langer

    1. Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
    2. Harvard–Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Division of Health Science and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
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  • Work described in this review was supported in part by the NIH grants HL60435 (for RL) EB000246 and GM56321 (for NAP), the Draper laboratory, the Institute of Soldier Nanotechnology (DAAD-19-02D-002), NSF (DGE-03-33080, BES-97-06538 and CTS-03-29317), as well as the Fletcher S. Pratt Foundation.

Abstract

Hydrophilic polymers are the center of research emphasis in nanotechnology because of their perceived “intelligence”. They can be used as thin films, scaffolds, or nanoparticles in a wide range of biomedical and biological applications. Here we highlight recent developments in engineering uncrosslinked and crosslinked hydrophilic polymers for these applications. Natural, biohybrid, and synthetic hydrophilic polymers and hydrogels are analyzed and their thermodynamic responses are discussed. In addition, examples of the use of hydrogels for various therapeutic applications are given. We show how such systems' intelligent behavior can be used in sensors, microarrays, and imaging. Finally, we outline challenges for the future in integrating hydrogels into biomedical applications.

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