Synthetic nanoporous materials have numerous potential biological and medical applications that involve sorting, sensing, isolating, and releasing biological molecules. Nanoporous systems engineered to mimic natural filtration systems are actively being developed for use in smart implantable drug delivery systems, bioartificial organs, and other novel nano-enabled medical devices. Recent advances in nanoscience have made it possible to precisely control the morphology as well as physical and chemical properties of the pores in nanoporous materials that make them increasingly attractive for regulating and sensing transport at the molecular level. In this work, an overview of nanoporous membranes for biomedical applications is given. Various in vivo and in vitro membrane applications, including biosensing, biosorting, immunoisolation, and drug delivery, are presented. Different types of nanoporous materials and their fabrication techniques are discussed with an emphasis on membranes with ordered pores. Desirable properties of membranes used in implantable devices, including biocompatibility and antibiofouling behavior, are discussed. The use of surface modification techniques to improve the function of nanoporous membranes is reviewed. Despite the extensive research carried out in fabrication, characterization, and modeling of nanoporous materials, there are still several challenges that must be overcome in order to create synthetic nanoporous systems that behave similarly to their biological counterparts. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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