2007 Volume 80 Issue 11 Pages 2047-2073
Supramolecular chemistry is an exciting area of science that plays a central role in bringing different disciplines together, ranging from molecular medicine to nanotechnology. Materials science based on supramolecular interactions is an emerging field, which has made important steps forward in the past ten years. The self-assembly of small synthetic molecules into long-chain architectures gives rise to the careful design of supramolecular polymers or fibers based on highly directional, reversible, non-covalent interactions. Much afford is put into the development of supramolecular (polymeric) materials with true materials properties, both in solution and in the solid state. These supramolecular materials are beginning to reach the market in all kind of applications. The field of regenerative medicine in general and that of tissue engineering in particular is one of the most challenging areas in which supramolecular materials might have a high potential. In tissue engineering, the biological environment and the interactions of cells with the artificial biomaterial is of utmost importance for the functioning of the implant, i.e. the engineered tissue. Ideal biomaterials do not only have to fulfil the biomaterials trinity of tuneable mechanical properties, regulation of the degradability and the ease for bioactivity incorporation, but also have to mimic the natural environment where the materials are brought into. Therefore, a modular, self-assembly approach using several supramolecular building blocks is an exquisite way to produce such “responsive” biomaterials. It is proposed that the artificial materials described in this account have the same type of dynamic ability to adapt its biofunctionality as is so well known for the living cells in the host tissue. This account will highlight two systems, i.e. self-assembling oligopeptide fibers as pioneered by Stupp et al. and Zhang et al., and our hydrogen-bonded supramolecular polymers, to show the potential of a modular approach to dynamic biomaterials for tissue engineering.
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