612. Mucus-Inspired Dynamic Hydrogels: Synthesis and Future Perspectives
R. Bej, R. Haag – 2022
Mucus hydrogels at biointerfaces are crucial for protecting against foreign pathogens and for the biological functions of the underlying cells. Since mucus can bind to and host both viruses and bacteria, establishing a synthetic model system that can emulate the properties and functions of native mucus and can be synthesized at large scale would revolutionize the mucus-related research that is essential for understanding the pathways of many infectious diseases. The synthesis of such biofunctional hydrogels in the laboratory is highly challenging, owing to their complex chemical compositions and the specific chemical interactions that occur throughout the gel network. In this perspective, we discuss the basic chemical structures and diverse physicochemical interactions responsible for the unique properties and functions of mucus hydrogels. We scrutinize the different approaches for preparing mucus-inspired hydrogels, with specific examples. We also discuss recent research and what it reveals about the challenges that must be addressed and the opportunities to be considered to achieve desirable de novo synthetic mucus hydrogels.