The most striking and general property of the biological fibrous architectures in the extracellular matrix (ECM) is the strong and directional interaction between biologically active protein subunits. These fibers display rich dynamic behavior without losing their architectural integrity. The complexity of the ECM taking care of many essential properties has inspired synthetic chemists to mimic these properties in artificial one-dimensional fibrous structures with the aim to arrive at multi-component biomaterials. Due to the dynamic character required for interaction with natural tissue, supramolecular biomaterials are promising candidates for regenerative medicine. Depending on the application area, and thereby the design criteria of these multi-component fibrous biomaterials, they are used as elastomeric materials or hydrogel systems. Elastomeric materials are designed to have load bearing properties whereas hydrogels are proposed to support in vitro cell culture. Although the chemical structures and systems designed and studied today are rather simple compared to the complexity of the ECM, the first examples of these functional supramolecular biomaterials reaching the clinic have been reported. The basic concept of many of these supramolecular biomaterials is based on their ability to adapt to cell behavior as a result of dynamic non-covalent interactions. In this review, we show the translation of one-dimensional supramolecular polymers into multi-component functional biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications.
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