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Annu Rev Chem Biomol Eng. 2010;1:149-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev-chembioeng-073009-100847.

Polymers for drug delivery systems.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712-1062, USA.


Polymers have played an integral role in the advancement of drug delivery technology by providing controlled release of therapeutic agents in constant doses over long periods, cyclic dosage, and tunable release of both hydrophilic and hydrophobic drugs. From early beginnings using off-the-shelf materials, the field has grown tremendously, driven in part by the innovations of chemical engineers. Modern advances in drug delivery are now predicated upon the rational design of polymers tailored for specific cargo and engineered to exert distinct biological functions. In this review, we highlight the fundamental drug delivery systems and their mathematical foundations and discuss the physiological barriers to drug delivery. We review the origins and applications of stimuli-responsive polymer systems and polymer therapeutics such as polymer-protein and polymer-drug conjugates. The latest developments in polymers capable of molecular recognition or directing intracellular delivery are surveyed to illustrate areas of research advancing the frontiers of drug delivery.

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