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Comprehensive Review on Dynamic Hydrogels
Three main cell-based stimuli can be harnessed to create responsive hydrogels: (1) enzymes (2) mechanical force and (3) metabolites/small molecules. Degradable bonds, dynamic covalent bonds, and non-covalent or supramolecular interactions are used to provide responsive architectures that enable features ranging from cell selective infiltration to control of stem-cell differentiation. The growing ability to spatio-temporally control the behavior of cells and tissue with rationally designed responsive materials has the ability to allow control and autonomy to future generations of materials for tissue regeneration, in addition to providing understanding and mimicry of the dynamic and complex cellular niche.
We are not yet ready to make hydrogels that can talk to cells, but they can certainly whisper them...