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Open Access Programmable Control in Extracellular Matrix-mimicking Polymer Hydrogels

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The extracellular matrix (ECM) and cells have a reciprocal relationship, one shapes the other and vice versa. One of the main challenges of synthetic material systems for developmental cell culturing, organoid and stem cell work includes the implementation of this reciprocal nature. The largest hurdle to achieve true cell-instructive materials in biomaterials engineering is a lack of spatial and temporal control over material properties and the display of bioactive signals compared to the natural cell environment. ECM-mimicking hydrogels have been developed using a wide range of polymers, assembly and cross-linking strategies. While our synthetic toolbox is larger than nature, often our systems underperform when compared to ECM systems with natural components like Matrigel. Material properties and three-dimensional structure ill-represent the three-dimensional ECM reciprocal nature and ligand presentation is an oversimplified version of the complexity found in nature. We hypothesize that the lack of programmable control in properties and ligand presentation forms the basis of this mismatch in performance and analyze the presence of control in current state of the art ECM-mimicking systems based on covalent, supramolecular and recombinant polymers. We conclude that through combining the dynamics of supramolecular materials, robustness from covalent systems and the programmable spatial control of bio-activation in recombinant ECM materials, the optimal synthetic artificial ECM could be assembled.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Institute of Materials, Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory EPFL – STI – IMX – PBL, MXC 340, Station 12 CH-1015 Lausanne 2: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Institute of Materials, Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory EPFL – STI – IMX – PBL, MXC 340, Station 12 CH-1015 Lausanne;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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