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Dynamic materials for tissue engineering

The tissue microenvironment is structurally and dynamically complex. Materials designed to interact with diseased or compromised tissue to induce regeneration, or to act as a scaffold for the production of tissues in the laboratory, thus need to be responsive to the microenvironment. For this, researchers leverage increased knowledge of the importance of the spatiotemporal integration of biomaterials with the tissue environment, as well as latest developments in high-resolution technologies in imaging and in materials synthesis and fabrication. Dynamically responsive materials for use in tissue engineering respond to external stimuli or have inherent properties that trigger the targeted, timed release of integral chemical constituents or of incorporated ligands for the controlled repair or remodelling of surrounding tissue. This collection highlights recent impactful advances, published in Nature-branded journals, in such dynamic biomaterials.

News and Views

  • Nature Materials | News & Views

    A supramolecular polymer that is stable in the acidic environment of the stomach but dissolves in the neutral-pH environment of the intestines prolongs the safe retention of gastric devices.

    • Vitaliy V. Khutoryanskiy
  • Nature Materials | News & Views

    Microgel particle precursors bearing peptide substrates for human enzymes crosslink in wound sites to produce bioactive scaffolds in situ that rapidly recruit cells and promote dermal healing.

    • David W. Grainger
  • Nature Materials | News & Views

    Stem cells alter their morphology and differentiate to particular lineages in response to biophysical cues from the surrounding matrix. When the matrix is degradable, however, cell fate is morphology-independent and is directed by the traction forces that the cells actively apply after they have degraded the matrix.

    • Ludovic G. Vincent
    •  &  Adam J. Engler
  • Nature Materials | News & Views

    Advances in photochemistry have profoundly impacted the way in which biology is studied. Now, a photoactivated enzymatic patterning method that offers spatiotemporal control over the presentation of bioactive proteins to direct cells in three-dimensional culture significantly expands the available chemical toolbox.

    • Daniel L. Alge
    •  &  Kristi S. Anseth

Research Articles and Reviews

  • Nature Reviews Materials | Review Article

    Tuning the reversible chemistries in hydrogels makes it possible to mimic the dynamic nature of the extracellular matrix. Various chemistries have been incorporated to regulate cell spreading, biochemical presentation and matrix mechanics.

    • Adrianne M. Rosales
    •  &  Kristi S. Anseth
  • Nature Materials | Review Article

    This Review discusses the properties and applications of supramolecular biomaterials for drug delivery, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and immunology.

    • Matthew J. Webber
    • , Eric A. Appel
    • , E. W. Meijer
    •  &  Robert Langer
  • Nature Communications | Review Article

    Hydrogels are water-containing polymer networks that have been applied in various biological settings. Burdick and Murphy review recent advances in the development of dynamic hydrogels whose properties and mechanics change in response to biological signals.

    • Jason A. Burdick
    •  &  William L. Murphy
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Studying the effects of extracellular matrix stiffening has been impeded because most in vitro models are static. Here, dynamic hydrogels are developed that stiffen in the presence of cells and are used to investigate the short-term (minutes-to-hours) and long-term (days-to-weeks) cellular responses to dynamic stiffening.

    • Murat Guvendiren
    •  &  Jason A. Burdick
  • Nature Materials | Review Article

    In chemistry, some dynamic bonds can be selectively and reversibly broken and reformed in response to an environmental stimulus. This Review article discusses the incorporation of dynamic bonds, or interactions, in polymeric materials and the structural changes and macroscopic responses observed in the presence of different stimuli.

    • Rudy J. Wojtecki
    • , Michael A. Meador
    •  &  Stuart J. Rowan