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  1. Abstract

    In an effort to augment the function of supramolecular biomaterials, recent efforts have explored the creation of hybrid materials that couple supramolecular and covalent components. Here, the benzenetricarboxamide (BTA) supramolecular polymer motif is modified to present a phenylboronic acid (PBA) in order to promote the crosslinking of 1D BTA stacks by PBA–diol dynamic‐covalent bonds through the addition of a multi‐arm diol‐bearing crosslinker. Interestingly, the combination of these two motifs serves to frustrate the resulting assembly process, yielding hydrogels with worse mechanical properties than those prepared without the multi‐arm diol crosslinker. Both systems with and without the crosslinker do, however, respond to the presence of a physiological level of glucose with a reduction in their mechanical integrity; repulsive electrostatic interactions in the BTA stacks occur in both cases upon glucose binding, with added competition from glucose with PBA–diol bonds amplifying glucose response in the hybrid material. Accordingly, the present results point to an unexpected outcome of reduced hydrogel mechanics, yet increased glucose response, when two disparate dynamic motifs of BTA supramolecular polymerization and PBA–diol crosslinking are combined, offering a vision for future preparation of glucose‐responsive supramolecular biomaterials.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Hydrogels comprise a class of soft materials which are extremely useful in a number of contexts, for example as matrix-mimetic biomaterials for applications in regenerative medicine and drug delivery. One particular subclass of hydrogels consists of materials prepared through non-covalent physical crosslinking afforded by supramolecular recognition motifs. The dynamic, reversible, and equilibrium-governed features of these molecular-scale motifs often transcend length-scales to endow the resulting hydrogels with these same properties on the bulk scale. In efforts to engineer hydrogels of all types with more precise or application-specific uses, inclusion of stimuli-responsive sol–gel transformations has been broadly explored. In the context of biomedical uses, temperature is an interesting stimulus which has been the focus of numerous hydrogel designs, supramolecular or otherwise. Most supramolecular motifs are inherently temperature-sensitive, with elevated temperatures commonly disfavoring motif formation and/or accelerating its dissociation. In addition, supramolecular motifs have also been incorporated for physical crosslinking in conjunction with polymeric or macromeric building blocks which themselves exhibit temperature-responsive changes to their properties. Through molecular-scale engineering of supramolecular recognition, and selection of a particular motif or polymeric/macromeric backbone, it is thus possible to devise a number of supramolecular hydrogel materials to empower a variety of future biomedical applications. 
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