Recent bio-applications of sol–gel materials
This review is devoted to the most recent developments (2000–2005) of sol–gel materials at the interface with biology. In the context of bioencapsulation in mineral hosts, novel synthetic approaches have been designed, allowing the immobilization of numerous proteins, enzymes and immune molecules as well as poly-saccharides, phospholipids and nucleic acids. These efforts have led to the development of new biosensors and bioreactors. A similar trend was also observed for whole cell encapsulation, survival periods over several weeks now being achieved. This has opened the possibility of designing hybrid hosts for cell-based biosensing and bioproduction, ultimately allowing the development of artificial organs. Indeed, applications of sol–gel processes are not restricted to bioencapsulation, as demonstrated by recent progress in drug release systems and bioactive materials. Finally, the considerable efforts devoted to the biomimetic elaboration of mineral structures suggest that they might be the key for future development of improved sol–gel materials for bio-applications.