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.
Tissue engineering aims to improve the function of diseased or damaged organs by creating biological substitutes. To fabricate a functional tissue, the engineered construct should mimic the physiological environment including its structural, topographical, and mechanical properties. Moreover, the construct should facilitate nutrients and oxygen diffusion as well as removal of metabolic waste during tissue regeneration. In the last decade, fiber-based techniques such as weaving, knitting, braiding, as well as electrospinning, and direct writing have emerged as promising platforms for making 3D tissue constructs that can address the above mentioned challenges. Here, we critically review the techniques used to form cell-free and cell-laden fibers and to assemble them into scaffolds. We compare their mechanical properties, morphological features and biological activity. We discuss current challenges and future opportunities of fiber-based tissue engineering (FBTE) for use in research and clinical practice.
Graphene and its chemical derivatives have been a pivotal new class of nanomaterials and a model system for quantum behavior. The material's excellent electrical conductivity, biocompatibility, surface area and thermal properties are of much interest to the scientific community. Two dimensional graphene materials have been widely used in various biomedical research areas such as bioelectronics, imaging, drug delivery, and tissue engineering. In this review we will highlight the recent applications of graphene-based materials in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In particular, we will discuss the application of graphene-based materials in cardiac, neural, bone, cartilage, skeletal muscle, and skin/adipose tissue engineering. We also discuss the potential risk factors of graphene-based materials in tissue engineering. In addition, we will outline the opportunities in the usage of graphene-based materials for clinical applications.
The demand for organ transplantation and repair, coupled with a shortage of available donors, poses an urgent clinical need for the development of innovative treatment strategies for long-term repair and regeneration of injured or diseased tissues and organs. Bioengineering organs, by growing patient-derived cells in biomaterial scaffolds in the presence of pertinent physicochemical signals, provides a promising solution to meet this demand. However, recapitulating the structural and cytoarchitectural complexities of native tissues in vitro remains a significant challenge to be addressed. Through tremendous efforts over the past decade, several innovative biofabrication strategies have been developed to overcome these challenges. This review highlights recent work on emerging three-dimensional bioprinting and textile techniques, compares the advantages and shortcomings of these approaches, outlines the use of common biomaterials and advanced hybrid scaffolds, and describes several design considerations including the structural, physical, biological, and economical parameters that are crucial for the fabrication of functional, complex, engineered tissues. Finally, the applications of these biofabrication strategies in neural, skin, connective, and muscle tissue engineering are explored.
Given their durability and long‐term stability, self‐healable hydrogels have, in the past few years, emerged as promising replacements for the many brittle hydrogels currently being used in preclinical or clinical trials. To this end, the incompatibility between hydrogel toughness and rapid self‐healing remains unaddressed, and therefore most of the self‐healable hydrogels still face serious challenges within the dynamic and mechanically demanding environment of human organs/tissues. Furthermore, depending on the target tissue, the self‐healing hydrogels must comply with a wide range of properties including electrical, biological, and mechanical. Notably, the incorporation of nanomaterials into double‐network hydrogels is showing great promise as a feasible way to generate self‐healable hydrogels with the above‐mentioned attributes. Here, the recent progress in the development of multifunctional and self‐healable hydrogels for various tissue engineering applications is discussed in detail. Their potential applications within the rapidly expanding areas of bioelectronic hydrogels, cyborganics, and soft robotics are further highlighted.
Biomaterials currently used in cardiac tissue engineering have certain limitations, such as lack of electrical conductivity and appropriate mechanical properties, which are two parameters playing a key role in regulating cardiac cellular behavior. In this work, we engineered myocardial tissue constructs based on reduced graphene oxide (rGO)-incorporated gelatin methacrylyol (GelMA) hybrid hydrogels. The incorporation of rGO into the GelMA matrix significantly enhanced the electrical conductivity and mechanical properties of the material. Moreover, cells cultured on composite rGO-GelMA scaffolds exhibited better biological activities such as cell viability, proliferation, and maturation compared to ones cultured on GelMA hydrogels. Cardiomyocytes showed stronger contractility and faster spontaneous beating rate on rGO-GelMA hydrogel sheets compared to those on pristine GelMA hydrogels, as well as GO-GelMA hydrogel sheets with similar mechanical property and particle concentration. Our strategy of integrating rGO within a biocompatible hydrogel is expected to be broadly applicable for future biomaterial design to improve tissue engineering outcomes. The engineered cardiac tissue constructs using rGO incorporated hybrid hydrogels can potentially provide high-fidelity tissue models for drug studies and the investigations of cardiac tissue development and/or disease processes in vitro.
Improved endovascular embolization of vascular conditions can generate better patient outcomes and minimize the need for repeat procedures. However, many embolic materials, such as metallic coils or liquid embolic agents, are associated with limitations and complications such as breakthrough bleeding, coil migration, coil compaction, recanalization, adhesion of the catheter to the embolic agent, or toxicity. Here, we engineered a shear-thinning biomaterial (STB), a nanocomposite hydrogel containing gelatin and silicate nanoplatelets, to function as an embolic agent for endovascular embolization procedures. STBs are injectable through clinical catheters and needles and have hemostatic activity comparable to metallic coils, the current gold standard. In addition, STBs withstand physiological pressures without fragmentation or displacement in elastomeric channels in vitro and in explant vessels ex vivo. In vitro experiments also indicated that STB embolization did not rely on intrinsic thrombosis as coils did for occlusion, suggesting that the biomaterial may be suitable for use in patients on anticoagulation therapy or those with coagulopathy. Using computed tomography imaging, the biomaterial was shown to fully occlude murine and porcine vasculature in vivo and remain at the site of injection without fragmentation or nontarget embolization. Given the advantages of rapid delivery, in vivo stability, and independent occlusion that does not rely on intrinsic thrombosis, STBs offer an alternative gel-based embolic agent with translational potential for endovascular embolization.
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