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Biotechnol Annu Rev. 2006;12:301-47.

Recent developments in biodegradable synthetic polymers.

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  • 1PolyNovo Biomaterials Pty Ltd, Bag 10, Clayton South, Bayview Avenue, Clayton 3169, Australia.


This chapter reviews recent developments in biodegradable synthetic polymers focusing on tailoring polymer structures to meet material specification for emerging applications such as tissue engineered products and therapies. Major classes and new families of synthetic polymers are discussed with regard to synthesis, properties and biodegradability, and known degradation modes and products are summarized based on studies reported during the past 10-15 years. Polyesters and their copolymers, polyurethanes, polyphosphazenes, polyanhydrides, polycarbonates, polyesteramides and recently developed injectable polymer systems based on polypropylenefumarates, polyurethanes and acrylate/urethane systems are reviewed. Polyesters such as polyglycolides, polylactides and their copolymers still remain as the major class of synthetic biodegradable polymers with products in clinical use. Although various copolymerization methods have addressed needs of different applications, release of acidic degradation products, processing difficulties and limited range of mechanical properties remains as major disadvantages of this family of polymers. Injectable polymers based on urethane and urethane/acrylate have shown great promise in developing delivery systems for tissue engineered products and therapies.

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