The development of injectable and biocompatible vehicles for delivery, retention, growth, and differentiation of stem cells is of paramount importance for regenerative medicine. For cell therapy and the development of clinical combination products, we created a hyaluronan (HA)-based synthetic extracellular matrix (sECM) that provides highly reproducible, manufacturable, approvable, and affordable biomaterials. The composition of the sECM can be customized for use with progenitor and mature cell populations obtained from skin, fat, liver, heart, muscle, bone, cartilage, nerves, and other tissues. This overview describes the design criteria for “living” HA derivatives, and the many uses of this in situ crosslinkable HA-based sECM hydrogel for three-dimensional (3-D) culture of cells in vitro and translational use in vivo. Recent advances allow rapid expansion and recovery of cells in 3-D, and the bioprinting of engineered tissue constructs. The uses of HA-derived sECMs for cell and molecule delivery in vivo will be reviewed, including applications in cancer biology and tumor imaging.
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