Photopolymerizable hydrogels for tissue engineering applications.
Photopolymerized hydrogels are being investigated for a number of tissue engineering applications because of the ability to form these materials in situ in a minimally invasive manner such as by injection. In addition, hydrogels, three-dimensional networks of hydrophilic polymers that are able to swell large amounts of water, can be made to resemble the physical characteristics of soft tissues. Hydrogel materials also generally exhibit high permeability and good biocompatibility making, these materials attractive for use in cell encapsulation and tissue engineering applications. A number of hydrogel materials can be formed via photopolymerization processes mild enough to be carried out in the presence of living cells. This allows one to homogeneously seed cells throughout the scaffold material and to form hydrogels in situ. This review presents advantages of photopolymerization of hydrogels and describes the photoinitiators and materials in current use. Applications of photopolymerized hydrogels in tissue engineering that have been investigated are summarized.
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