Over the past few decades, bone related disorders have constantly increased. Among all pathological conditions, osteoporosis is one of the most common and often leads to bone fractures. This is a massive burden and it affects an estimated 3 million people only in the UK. Furthermore, as the population ages, numbers are due to increase. In this context, novel biomaterials for bone fracture regeneration are constantly under development. Typically, these materials aim at favoring optimal bone integration in the scaffold, up to complete bone regeneration; this approach to regenerative medicine is also known as tissue engineering (TE). Hydrogels are among the most promising biomaterials in TE applications: they are very flexible materials that allow a number of different properties to be targeted for different applications, through appropriate chemical modifications. The present review will focus on the strategies that have been developed for formulating hydrogels with ideal properties for bone regeneration applications. In particular, aspects related to the improvement of hydrogels’ mechanical competence, controlled delivery of drugs and growth factors are treated in detail. It is hoped that this review can provide an exhaustive compendium of the main aspects in hydrogel related research and, therefore, stimulate future biomaterial development and applications.
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