Acute cartilage defects are a significant source of suffering and disability, leading to productivity loss and significant healthcare costs. Aging population and increase in physical activity at all ages are amplifying the societal impact of cartilage defects, which in the long-term contribute to osteoarthritis onset. Materials trying to match cartilage resilience are usually unsuitable for cell invasion, new tissue formation and adhesion to native tissue, which is the first requirement for lateral integration.
Double-network hydrogels are specialized interpenetrating polymeric networks with outstanding strength and toughness. Double networks were initially developed from non-biodegradable materials unsuitable for long-term implantation. Recent advances have demonstrated how the same design paradigm can be employed to fabricate biopolymer-based tough double network hydrogels (Figure).
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Ferguson S (Prof), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland