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Gels are materials composed of a three-dimensional crosslinked polymer or colloidal network immersed in a fluid. They are usually soft and weak, but can be made hard and tough. Hydrogels are gels that contain more than 99.9% of water.
Mechanical properties of living organisms are determined by intra- and extra-cellular biopolymer networks. Here, the authors show how the mechanics of polyisocyanopeptide hydrogels, mimicking biopolymers, can be readily manipulated by introducing a second polymer network.
Biophysical factors in an optimized three-dimensional microenvironment enhance the reprogramming efficiency of human somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells when compared to traditional cell-culture substrates.