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The particle in the spider’s web: transport through biological hydrogels


Biological hydrogels such as mucus, extracellular matrix, biofilms, and the nuclear pore have diverse functions and compositions, but all act as selectively permeable barriers to the diffusion of particles. Each barrier has a crosslinked polymeric mesh that blocks penetration of large particles such as pathogens, nanotherapeutics, or macromolecules. These polymeric meshes also employ interactive filtering, in which affinity between solutes and the gel matrix controls permeability. Interactive filtering affects the transport of particles of all sizes including peptides, antibiotics, and nanoparticles and in many cases this filtering can be described in terms of the effects of charge and hydrophobicity. The concepts described in this review can guide strategies to exploit or overcome gel barriers, particularly for applications in diagnostics, pharmacology, biomaterials, and drug delivery.

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Dec 2016, accepted on 12 May 2017 and first published on 16 May 2017

Article type: Feature Article
DOI: 10.1039/C6NR09736G
Citation: Nanoscale, 2017, Accepted Manuscript
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    The particle in the spider’s web: transport through biological hydrogels

    J. Witten and K. Ribbeck, Nanoscale, 2017, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C6NR09736G

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