Drug-releasing shape-memory polymers – The role of morphology, processing effects, and matrix degradation


Introduction: Shape-memory polymers (SMPs) have gained interest for temporary drug-release systems that should be anchored in the body by self-sufficient active movements of the polymeric matrix. Areas covered: Based on the so far published scientific literature, this review highlights three aspects that require particular attention when combining SMPs with drug molecules: i) the defined polymer morphology as required for the shape-memory function, ii) the strong effects that processing conditions such as drug-loading methodologies can have on the drug-release pattern from SMPs, and iii) the independent control of drug release and degradation by their timely separation. Expert opinion: The combination of SMPs with a drug-release functionality leads to multifunctional carriers that are an interesting technology for pharmaceutical sciences and can be further expanded by new materials such as thermoplastic SMPs or temperature-memory polymers. Experimental studies should include relevant molecules as (model) drugs and provide a thermomechanical characterization also in an aqueous environment, report on the potential effect of drug type and loading levels on the shape-memory functionality, and explore the potential correlation of polymer degradation and drug release.
QR Code: Link to publication