Hydrogels are three-dimensional networks composed of hydrated polymer chains and have been a material of choice for many biomedical applications such as drug delivery, biosensing, and tissue engineering due to their unique biocompatibility, tunable physical characteristics, flexible methods of synthesis, and range of constituents. In many cases, methods for crosslinking polymer precursors to form hydrogels would benefit from being highly selective in order to avoid cross-reactivity with components of biological systems leading to adverse effects. Crosslinking reactions involving the thiol group (SH) offer unique opportunities to construct hydrogel materials of diverse properties under mild conditions. This article reviews and comments on thiol-mediated chemoselective and biocompatible strategies for crosslinking natural and synthetic macromolecules to form injectable hydrogels for applications in drug delivery and cell encapsulation.
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