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28 January 2015
Vol 7, Issue 272

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ONLINE COVER The Forest AND the Trees. When choosing a biomaterial—the "trees"—for use in a specific clinical environment—the "forest"—a one-material-fits-all mentality currently dominates. Now, Oliva et al. reveal that disease-specific context influences compatibility between a biomaterial and its host tissue. Here, aldehyde-coated fluorescent microspheres in a dendrimer/dextran hydrogel were applied to inflamed rabbit colonic tissue [top, bulk biomaterial (green); bottom, inflamed colonic tissue (red); middle, biomaterial-tissue interfacial region, where the biomaterial binds to and integrates with the tissue]. In this ulcerative colitis model, inflammation interfered with biomaterial binding; whereas in another gastrointestinal disease, colon cancer, the tissue exhibited better binding and integration (not shown). Predictive models that match a material with its medium may one day translate to improved clinical outcomes. See the accompanying Focus by Ratner et al. [CREDIT: J. CONDE/QUEEN MARY, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, MIT; N. OLIVA, E. R. EDELMAN, N. ARTZI/MIT]