Knowledge-Based Approach towards Hydrolytic Degradation of Polymer-Based Biomaterials


The concept of hydrolytically degradable biomaterials was developed to enable the design of temporary implants that substitute or fulfill a certain function as long as required to support (wound) healing processes or to control the release of drugs. Examples are surgical implants, e.g., sutures, or implantable drug depots for treatment of cancer. In both cases degradability can help to avoid a second surgical procedure for explanation. Although degradable surgical sutures are established in the clinical practice for more than 30 years, still more than 40% of surgical sutures applied in clinics today are nondegradable.[1] A major limitation of the established degradable suture materials is the fact that their degradation behavior cannot reliably be predicted by applying existing experimental methodologies. Similar concerns also apply to other degradable implants. Therefore, a knowledge-based approach is clearly needed to overcome the described problems and to enable the tailored design of biodegradable polymer materials. In this Progress Report we describe two methods (as examples for tools for this fundamental approach): molecular modeling combining atomistic bulk interface models with quantum chemical studies and experimental investigations of macromolecule degradation in monolayers on Langmuir-Blodgett (LB) troughs. Finally, an outlook on related future research strategies is provided.
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