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Natural biological macromolecules for designing hydrogels as health care and anti-aging solutions
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1  Romanian Academy, “Ilie Murgulescu” Institute of Physical Chemistry
Academic Editor: Nunzio Cennamo


Recent advances in the development of strategies for chemical adaptation of biomacromolecules, such as polysaccharides, proteins and lipids, have allowed the design of functional hydrogels suitable for the current requirements in the biomedical and health care fields. Hydrogels are three-dimensional hydrophilic materials that have the ability to absorb and retain a large volume of water obtained from lower fraction of precursor macromolecules. They can be made from both natural and synthetic materials and can have different degrees of stiffness and elasticity, depending on the projected application. Hydrogels are biocompatible, and therefore can be safely used in various applications, including contact lenses, dressings, medical devices and tissue engineering scaffolds. Also, they are effective targeted delivery systems for various drugs (antibiotics, analgesics, chemotherapeutics). Due to the protection effect regarding high temperatures, acidic environments and enzymatic degradation provided for a wide range of unstable macromolecules, including peptides and proteins, the hydrogels can be considered as promising delivery vehicles. Hydrogels can be designed as adaptable natural extracellular matrices, with different degrees of rigidity and porosity. They can be functionalized with a wide variety of bioactive molecules, such as growth factors, proteins and peptides, very useful in tissue engineering applications, including cartilage and bone regeneration, neural tissue engineering and wound healing. As anti-aging therapy systems, they can be combined with plant extracts or can include a multitude of bioactive compounds, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids or probiotics. The versatility and unique properties of bio-hydrogels are challenging and determine their study and application in many fields, such as health care and anti-aging solutions. The aim of this research is to give an insight about the current status of polysaccharide-based hydrogels for applications in biomedical domain. This will highlight new strategies to develop novel bio-materials which might help in improving the human health.

Keywords: macromolecules; hydrogels; health care; anti-aging