Biomaterials research has come of age, write Nature journal editors Rosamund Daw and Stefano Tonzani in their introductory Editorial (Nature 462, 425; 2009, free to access online) to the latest Insight collection, Biomaterials. Since antiquity, the editors write, humans have been taking whatever substances are at hand — natural materials, glass, metals or polymers — and using them to replace body parts that have been damaged by disease or injury. But it is only recently, with the advent of molecular biology, that the field has become interdisciplinary, enabling materials scientists to design materials that impart a specific biological function. The field of biomaterials is also broadening as we improve our understanding of how the physical sciences can help to explain biology and indeed of how biological principles, mechanisms and molecules can be applied in the design of materials for non-biological applications. The articles in this Insight (listed below) explore areas of research in which recent advances in basic biology are driving materials scientists to think differently when developing new materials.
Nathaniel Huebsch & David J. Mooney
Matthias P. Lutolf, Penney M. Gilbert & Helen M. Blau
Peter Fratzl & Friedrich G. Barth
Jeffrey A. Hubbell, Susan N. Thomas & Melody A. Swartz
David A. Giljohann & Chad A. Mirkin