Biocompatible and biodegradable molecules capable of spontaneous self-assembly into hierarchical structures have the potential to serve as building blocks for complex scaffolds for cell culture. These scaffolds are meant to mimic the natural environment required for successful cell growth. Thus, they must be precisely designed and present specific mechanical and structural properties along with required biological and chemical cues. Combining the hierarchical structure and chemical functionality of a peptide with the stability of a polymer has led to the formation of complex and stable biomaterials. Among these hybrid biomaterials, macroscopic membranes self-assembled at the aqueous interface between self-assembling peptides and polymer solutions have gained attention over the past decade. The goal of this mini-review is to highlight the advantages and challenges of utilizing polymer/peptide self-assembled macroscopic membranes toward the development of novel platforms for the study of the interaction of different cells with their environment. As most of the membranes features are determined as soon as they assemble, this review begins with a detailed description of the membranes formation mechanism, which evolved and developed over the years. The variety of membranes formed using different peptides and polymers is then described, with special focus placed on their unique structure. Then the bio-functions of the membranes and their emerging potential for bio-applications are presented. In the final section, the shortcomings preventing an extended use of these membranes as well as their future prospects, are discussed. This mini-review aims to give light to an emerging niche of biomaterials capable of forming hierarchical structures utilizing natural building blocks and the naturally occurring process of self-assembly, providing an innovative approach for creating scaffolds that mimic the natural extracellular environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemistry (all)