Hydrogels are considered to be good candidates for application in tissue engineering thanks to properties such as injectability, biocompatibility and the possibility to use them for drug delivery. The main drawback is their insufficient strength to give support for growing cells and reconstructing tissues. What can be done to improve their mechanical properties?
Fast and amazing developments in tissue engineering bring us to the point that restoration of structure and function of almost any damaged tissue seems realistic in the near future. Many researchers are working on new materials for medical use and the number of commercially available biomaterials is increasing. Inspired by nature, genetically engineered proteins are a new class of materials with a great potential in regenerative medicine. Proteins produced using recombinant DNA technology can self-assemble into hydrogel networks with great control over physical properties. They offer several advantages over materials typically used in tissue engineering:
- Control over structure and properties
- Possibility to incorporate biological factors
- No batch-to-batch variation in material
- No uncontrolled degradation