The Glitter of Carbon Nanostructures in Hybrid/Composite Hydrogels for Medicinal Use
In recent years, we have witnessed to fast developments in the medicinal field of hydrogels containing various forms of integrated nanostructured carbon that adds interesting mechanical, thermal, and electronic properties. Besides key advances in tissue engineering (especially for conductive tissue, such as for the brain and the heart), there has been innovation also in the area of drug delivery on-demand, with engineered hydrogels capable of repeated response to light, thermal, or electric stimuli. This mini-review focusses on the most promising developments as applied to the gelation of protein/ peptide (including self-assembling amino acids and low-molecular-weight gelators), polysaccharide, and/or synthetic polymer components in medicine. The emerging field of graphene-only hydrogels is also briefly discussed, to give the reader a full flavor of the rising new paradigms in medicine that are made possible through the integration of nanostructured carbon (e.g., carbon nanotubes, nanohorns, nanodiamonds, fullerene, etc.). Nanocarbons are offering great opportunities to bring on a revolution in therapy that the modern medicinal chemist needs to master, to realise their full potential into powerful therapeutic solutions for the patient.
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