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Mimicking biological functionality with polymers for biomedical applications

Abstract

The vast opportunities for biomaterials design and functionality enabled by mimicking nature continue to stretch the limits of imagination. As both biological understanding and engineering capabilities develop, more sophisticated biomedical materials can be synthesized that have multifaceted chemical, biological and physical characteristics designed to achieve specific therapeutic goals. Mimicry is being used in the design of polymers for biomedical applications that are required locally in tissues, systemically throughout the body, and at the interface with tissues.

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Figure 1: Strategies to create synthetic environments that mimic tissues.
Figure 2: Biomimetic polymeric nanostructures can be constructed to mimic the geometries of biological viruses for systemic delivery.
Figure 3: Biomimetic materials for the design of tissue adhesives and device coatings.
Figure 4: Synthetic polymer structures used for active interaction with immune cells.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank K. Sadtler for contributions and the design of Figs 1 and 4, C. Cherry for editorial assistance, and M. Frisk for critical review and manuscript contributions. J.J.G. was supported in part by the NIH (1R01EB016721). J.H.E. was supported by the Department of Defense including the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

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Green, J., Elisseeff, J. Mimicking biological functionality with polymers for biomedical applications. Nature 540, 386–394 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21005

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