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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 21, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 9, 2024
  3. Soft materials that change form or function in response to environmental or user-applied stimuli have a wide range of biomedical applications ( 1 ). Gels can form in water from weakly interacting molecules but can return to the state of a flowing liquid suspension, known as a sol, upon changes in the concentration of the molecules or the applied temperature. This behavior is known as a reentrant phase transition. A gel-to-sol phase transition typically arises from a reduction in concentration, meaning that a gel becomes a sol upon dilution and a sol becomes a gel with increased concentration. On page 213 of this issue, Su et al. ( 2 ) demonstrate a system that exhibits a sol-to-gel transition when diluted, inverting the common behavior of gels. Their observations offer insight into systems that undergo reentrant phase transitions in biology. 
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  4. Abstract

    Diabetes is one of the most pressing healthcare challenges facing society. Dysfunctional insulin signaling causes diabetes, leading to blood glucose instability and many associated complications. While the administration of exogenous insulin is then essential for achieving glucose control, issues with dosing accuracy and timing remain. Hydrogel‐based drug delivery systems have been broadly explored for controlled protein release, including for applications in long‐lasting and oral insulin delivery. More recently, efforts have focused on injectable hydrogels with glucose‐directed controlled release of insulin and glucagon, aiming for more autonomous and biomimetic approaches to blood glucose control. These materials typically use protein‐based sensing mechanisms or glucose binding by synthetic aryl boronates for glucose‐directed release. Despite advancements in this area, there remains a need for more precise timing of therapeutic availability to afford healthy blood glucose homeostasis, providing an opportunity for further research and innovation. This review summarizes the current state of hydrogel‐based delivery of insulin and glucagon, with insights into the potential benefits, future directions, and challenges that must be overcome to achieve clinical impact.

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  5. Hydrogels prepared from supramolecular cross-linking motifs are appealing for use as biomaterials and drug delivery technologies. The inclusion of macromolecules (e.g., protein therapeutics) in these materials is relevant to many of their intended uses. However, the impact of dynamic network cross-linking on macromolecule diffusion must be better understood. Here, hydrogel networks with identical topology but disparate cross-link dynamics are explored. These materials are prepared from cross-linking with host–guest complexes of the cucurbit[7]uril (CB[7]) macrocycle and two guests of different affinity. Rheology confirms differences in bulk material dynamics arising from differences in cross-link thermodynamics. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) provides insight into macromolecule diffusion as a function of probe molecular weight and hydrogel network dynamics. Together, both rheology and FRAP enable the estimation of the mean network mesh size, which is then related to the solute hydrodynamic diameters to further understand macromolecule diffusion. Interestingly, the thermodynamics of host–guest cross-linking are correlated with a marked deviation from classical diffusion behavior for higher molecular weight probes, yielding solute aggregation in high-affinity networks. These studies offer insights into fundamental macromolecular transport phenomena as they relate to the association dynamics of supramolecular networks. Translation of these materials from in vitro to in vivo is also assessed by bulk release of an encapsulated macromolecule. Contradictory in vitro to in vivo results with inverse relationships in release between the two hydrogels underscores the caution demanded when translating supramolecular biomaterials into application. 
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