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Keywords:

  • hydrogels;
  • microengineering;
  • regenerative medicine;
  • smart biomaterials

Hydrogels are hydrophilic polymer-based materials with high water content and physical characteristics that resemble the native extracellular matrix. Because of their remarkable properties, hydrogel systems are used for a wide range of biomedical applications, such as three-dimensional (3D) matrices for tissue engineering, drug-delivery vehicles, composite biomaterials, and as injectable fillers in minimally invasive surgeries. In addition, the rational design of hydrogels with controlled physical and biological properties can be used to modulate cellular functionality and tissue morphogenesis. Here, the development of advanced hydrogels with tunable physiochemical properties is highlighted, with particular emphasis on elastomeric, light-sensitive, composite, and shape-memory hydrogels. Emerging technologies developed over the past decade to control hydrogel architecture are also discussed and a number of potential applications and challenges in the utilization of hydrogels in regenerative medicine are reviewed. It is anticipated that the continued development of sophisticated hydrogels will result in clinical applications that will improve patient care and quality of life.