Chemical Society Reviews
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The biological purpose of DNA is to store, replicate, and convey genetic information in cells. Progress in molecular genetics have led to its widespread applications in gene editing, gene therapy, and forensic science. However, in addition to its role as a genetic material, DNA has also emerged as a nongenetic, generic material for diverse biomedical applications. DNA is essentially a natural biopolymer that can be precisely programed by simple chemical modifications to construct materials with desired mechanical, biological, and structural properties. This review critically deciphers the chemical tools and strategies that are currently being employed to harness the nongenetic functions of DNA. Here, the primary product of interest has been crosslinked, hydrated polymers, or hydrogels. State-of-the-art applications of macroscopic, DNA-based hydrogels in the fields of environment, electrochemistry, biologics delivery, and regenerative therapy have been extensively reviewed. Additionally, the review encompasses the status of DNA as a clinically and commercially viable material and provides insight into future possibilities.