Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are newly emerged crystalline porous polymers with well-defined skeletons and nanopores mainly consisted of light-weight elements (H, B, C, N and O) linked by dynamic covalent bonds. Compared with conventional materials, COFs possess some unique and attractive features, such as large surface area, pre-designable pore geometry, excellent crystallinity, inherent adaptability and high flexibility in structural and functional design, thus exhibiting great potential for various applications. Especially, their large surface area and tunable porosity and π conjugation with unique photoelectric properties will enable COFs to serve as a promising platform for drug delivery, bioimaging, biosensing and theranostic applications. In this review, we trace the evolution of COFs in terms of linkages and highlight the important issues on synthetic method, structural design, morphological control and functionalization. And then we summarize the recent advances of COFs in the biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors and conclude with a discussion of the challenges and opportunities of COFs for biomedical purposes. Although currently still at its infancy stage, COFs as an innovative source have paved a new way to meet future challenges in human healthcare and disease theranostic.
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