The present invention relates to the preparation of in situ-forming hydrogels by cross-linking macromonomers using the Diels-Alder reaction. Hydrophilic macromolecules are functionalized with dienes and dienophiles; the number of functionalities is at least two per macromonomer. The macromonomers are cross-linked in aqueous solutions outside or inside the human body by a [4+2] cycloaddition reaction to form highly elastic hydrogels. The hydrogels can be used as biomaterials for biomedical applications, as scaffolds for living cells, or as delivery system for the controlled release of proteins.
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