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Smart Polymers Mimic Biological Systems to form Artificial Body Parts

SpecialChem / Jun 24, 2008

A variety of smart polymers are becoming increasingly used to address a diverse range of medical applications. Leading the smart polymer vanguard are shape memory polymers (SMP) molecularly engineered to change shape in response to various stimuli. Typically a medical component or device built from SMP will revert to its original form after being manipulated into a different shape. The nonlinear response of smart polymers is what tends to make them so effective. A significant change in structure and properties can be induced by a small stimulus. Once that change occurs, there is no further change, meaning a predictable all-or-nothing response occurs, with complete uniformity throughout the polymer. Smart polymers may change conformation, adhesiveness or water retention properties, due to slight changes in pH, ionic strength. SMP matrices release drugs by a chemical or physiological structure-altering reaction, often a hydrolysis reaction resulting in cleavage of bonds and release of drug as the matrix breaks down into biodegradable components.

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