Renewable resources are gaining increasing interest as a source for environmentally benign biomaterials, such as drug encapsulation/release compounds, and scaffolds for tissue engineering in regenerative medicine. Being the second largest naturally abundant polymer, the interest in lignin valorization for biomedical utilization is rapidly growing. Depending on its resource and isolation procedure, lignin shows specific antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. Today, efforts in research and industry are directed toward lignin utilization as a renewable macromolecular building block for the preparation of polymeric drug encapsulation and scaffold materials. Within the last five years, remarkable progress has been made in isolation, functionalization and modification of lignin and lignin-derived compounds. However, the literature so far mainly focuses lignin-derived fuels, lubricants and resins. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current state of the art and to highlight the most important results in the field of lignin-based materials for potential use in biomedicine (reported in 2014⁻2018). Special focus is placed on lignin-derived nanomaterials for drug encapsulation and release as well as lignin hybrid materials used as scaffolds for guided bone regeneration in stem cell-based therapies.
Keywords: biomaterial; bone regeneration; drug release; hydrogel; lignin; multivariate data processing; osteogenesis; scaffolds; stem cells; tissue engineering.