Design of Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications


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Abstract

Hydrogels are considered key tools for the design of biomaterials, such as wound dressings, drug reservoirs, and temporary scaffolds for cells. Despite their potential, conventional hydrogels have limited applicability under wet physiological conditions because they suffer from the uncontrollable temporal change in shape: swelling takes place immediately after the installation. Swollen hydrogels easily fail under mechanical stress. The morphological change may cause not only the slippage from the installation site but also local nerve compression. The design of hydrogels that can retain their original shape and mechanical properties in an aqueous environment is, therefore, of great importance. On the one hand, the controlled degradation of used hydrogels has to be realized in some biomedical applications. This Progress Report provides a brief overview of the recent progress in the development of hydrogels for biomedical applications. Practical approaches to control the swelling properties of hydrogels are discussed. The designs of hydrogels with controlled degradation properties as well as the theoretical models to predict the degradation behavior are also introduced. Moreover, current challenges and limitation toward biomedical applications are discussed, and future directions are offered.Hydrogels are considered key components for the design of biomaterials. Conventional hydrogels, however, have limited applicability under wet physiological conditions where they inevitably swell over time. Control over swelling by the introduction of thermoresponsive segments as well as theoretical models to predict the degradation behavior may be powerful tools for the design of hydrogels for biomedical applications.

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