Self-healing Injectable Hydrogels in Chemical Reviews
In a collaborative effort together with Pascal Bertsch and Sander Leeuwenburgh at Radboudumc and David Mooney at Harvard, our group has just published a review article on self-healing injectable hydrogels in the top-tier journal Chemical Reviews. Self-healing injectable hydrogels have rapidly emerged in biomedicine as they can be administered in a minimally invasive manner through a syringe and qualify as 3D printing inks. By exploiting reversible chemistry, these hydrogels are able to temporarily fluidize in a syringe or 3D printing nozzle followed by rapid self-healing of their original structure.
Self-healing injectable hydrogels potentially offer many advantages over traditional biomaterials, most notably the possibility for minimally invasive injection, moldability into patient specific tissue defects, and high spatiotemporal control of encapsulated cells and therapeutics. Consequently, self-healing injectable hydrogels have been at the forefront of many emerging strategies for tissue regeneration, e.g. to provide mechanical support after heart attack, deliver drugs or excitable particles directly into tumors, or as immunoengineering platforms that can recruit and trigger immune cells in situ. However, we also identified several bottlenecks that currently impede the translation of self-healing injectable hydrogels, such as inadequate measuring techniques for injection and a limited understanding of hydrogel behavior and biodistribution in situ, and provide guidelines how these limitations may be overcome in the near future.