Hybrid Materials for Tissue Repair and Replacement: Another Frontier in Biomaterial Exploitation Focusing on Cardiovascular and Urological Fields
The main purpose of tissue engineering is to fabricate and exploit engineered constructs suitable for the effective replacement of damaged tissues and organs to perfectly integrate with the host&rsquo;s organism without eliciting any adverse reaction. Ideally, autologous materials represent the best option, but they are often limited due to the low availability of compatible healthy tissues. So far, one therapeutic approach relies on the exploitation of synthetic materials as they exhibit good features in terms of impermeability, deformability, and flexibility, but present chronic risks of infections and inflammations. Alternatively, biological materials, including naturally derived ones and acellular tissue matrices of human or animal origin, can be used to induce cells growth and differentiation, which are needed for tissue regeneration; however, this kind of material lacks satisfactory mechanical resistance and reproducibility, affecting their clinical application. In order to overcome the above-mentioned limitations, hybrid materials, which can be obtained by coupling synthetic polymers and biological materials, have been investigated with the aim to improve biological compatibility and mechanical features. Currently, the interest in these materials is growing, but the ideal ones have not been found yet. The present review aims at exploring some applications of hybrid materials, with particular mention to urological and cardiovascular fields. In the first case, the efforts to find a construct that can guarantee impermeability, mechanical resistance, and patency is herein illustrated; in the second case, the search for impermeability, hemocompatibility and adequate compliance is disclosed.