Hydrogels for tissue engineering
For the development and behavior of cells, their biomechanical environment is as important as biochemical signaling molecules. In the body, biomechanical stimuli are exerted in particular by the extracellular matrix, which provides shape to tissues and surrounds many cell types.
In the development of tissue models and organoids, but also for the production of tissue substitutes, hydrogels are widely used as a scaffold material that mimics the function and properties of the extracellular matrix. Design and functionalities of hydrogels are thus important parameters which have to be considered during experimental setup and when interpreting the results.
Together with partners from the USA, the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland, researchers from Fraunhofer IZI have published a review paper in the journal NATURE REVIEWS METHODS PRIMERS summarizing the state of the art for the preparation and application of such hydrogels.
The article highlights the types of polymers that can be used to prepare hydrogels and how they can be physically and chemically modified to specifically tailor the biomechanical properties of the matrix. At the same time, the paper discusses limitations and opens up future optimization approaches.
Furthermore, the paper gives an overview of the various potential applications, including in the field of stem cell biology, in the development of organoids and disease models, and in the field of immunotherapy. In the latter area in particular, hydrogels are used at Fraunhofer IZI, for example, in the development and testing of cell and gene therapeutics.
Blache U, Ford EM, Ha B, Rijns L, Chaudhuri O, Dankers PYW, Kloxin AM, Snedeker JG, Eileen Gentleman E. Engineered hydrogels for mechanobiology. Nat Rev Methods Primers 2, 98 (2022). doi: 10.1038/s43586-022-00179-7
Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands)
ETH Zurich (Switzerland)
Kings College London (UK)
University of Delaware (USA)
Stanford University (USA)