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Biomacromolecules. 2007 May;8(5):1359-84. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

The chemistry and applications of antimicrobial polymers: a state-of-the-art review.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Polymer Research Group, Faculty of Science, University of Tanta, Tanta 31527, Egypt. ekenawy@yahoo.com

Abstract

Microbial infection remains one of the most serious complications in several areas, particularly in medical devices, drugs, health care and hygienic applications, water purification systems, hospital and dental surgery equipment, textiles, food packaging, and food storage. Antimicrobials gain interest from both academic research and industry due to their potential to provide quality and safety benefits to many materials. However, low molecular weight antimicrobial agents suffer from many disadvantages, such as toxicity to the environment and short-term antimicrobial ability. To overcome problems associated with the low molecular weight antimicrobial agents, antimicrobial functional groups can be introduced into polymer molecules. The use of antimicrobial polymers offers promise for enhancing the efficacy of some existing antimicrobial agents and minimizing the environmental problems accompanying conventional antimicrobial agents by reducing the residual toxicity of the agents, increasing their efficiency and selectivity, and prolonging the lifetime of the antimicrobial agents. Research concerning the development of antimicrobial polymers represents a great a challenge for both the academic world and industry. This article reviews the state of the art of antimicrobial polymers primarily since the last comprehensive review by one of the authors in 1996. In particular, it discusses the requirements of antimicrobial polymers, factors affecting the antimicrobial activities, methods of synthesizing antimicrobial polymers, major fields of applications, and future and perspectives in the field of antimicrobial polymers.

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