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Physical approaches to biomaterial design

Abstract

The development of biomaterials for drug delivery, tissue engineering and medical diagnostics has traditionally been based on new chemistries. However, there is growing recognition that the physical as well as the chemical properties of materials can regulate biological responses. Here, we review this transition with regard to selected physical properties including size, shape, mechanical properties, surface texture and compartmentalization. In each case, we present examples demonstrating the significance of these properties in biology. We also discuss synthesis methods and biological applications for designer biomaterials, which offer unique physical properties.

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Figure 1: Examples of natural biological objects that have diverse physical properties.
Figure 2: Size-dependent processes of particle transport in the human body.
Figure 3: Examples of designer particles with different shapes.
Figure 4: Examples of surfaces with micro- or nanoscale heterogeneity.
Figure 5: Examples of multifunctional particles based on compartmentalization.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge support from the National Institute of Health Program of Excellence in Nanotechnology (1VO1 HL080718), the Department of Defense (Idea award) and the NSF (Career award DMR-0449462). We thank A. Arora and N. Doshi for help in preparing the manuscript.

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Mitragotri, S., Lahann, J. Physical approaches to biomaterial design. Nature Mater 8, 15–23 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat2344

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