• scaffolds;
  • biodegradable polymers;
  • tissue engineering;
  • matrices


Typical applications and research areas of polymeric biomaterials include tissue replacement, tissue augmentation, tissue support, and drug delivery. In many cases the body needs only the temporary presence of a device/biomaterial, in which instance biodegradable and certain partially biodegradable polymeric materials are better alternatives than biostable ones. Recent treatment concepts based on scaffold-based tissue engineering principles differ from standard tissue replacement and drug therapies as the engineered tissue aims not only to repair but also regenerate the target tissue. Cells have been cultured outside the body for many years; however, it has only recently become possible for scientists and engineers to grow complex three-dimensional tissue grafts to meet clinical needs. New generations of scaffolds based on synthetic and natural polymers are being developed and evaluated at a rapid pace, aimed at mimicking the structural characteristics of natural extracellular matrix. This review focuses on scaffolds made of more recently developed synthetic polymers for tissue engineering applications. Currently, the design and fabrication of biodegradable synthetic scaffolds is driven by four material categories: (i) common clinically established polymers, including polyglycolide, polylactides, polycaprolactone; (ii) novel di- and tri-block polymers; (iii) newly synthesized or studied polymeric biomaterials, such as polyorthoester, polyanhydrides, polyhydroxyalkanoate, polypyrroles, poly(ether ester amide)s, elastic shape-memory polymers; and (iv) biomimetic materials, supramolecular polymers formed by self-assembly, and matrices presenting distinctive or a variety of biochemical cues. This paper aims to review the latest developments from a scaffold material perspective, mainly pertaining to categories (ii) and (iii) listed above. Copyright © 2006 Society of Chemical Industry