Summary: Alginate hydrogels are proving to have a wide applicability as biomaterials. They have been used as scaffolds for tissue engineering, as delivery vehicles for drugs, and as model extracellular matrices for basic biological studies. These applications require tight control of a number of material properties including mechanical stiffness, swelling, degradation, cell attachment, and binding or release of bioactive molecules. Control over these properties can be achieved by chemical or physical modifications of the polysaccharide itself or the gels formed from alginate. The utility of these modified alginate gels as biomaterials has been demonstrated in a number of in vitro and in vivo studies.
Micro-CT images of bone-like constructs that result from transplantation of osteoblasts on gels that degrade over a time frame of several months leading to improved bone formation.