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A model for hydrolytic degradation and erosion of biodegradable polymers.

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journal contribution
posted on 09.01.2018, 11:16 by Kevser Sevim, Jingzhe Pan
For aliphatic polyesters such as PLAs and PGAs, there is a strong interplay between the hydrolytic degradation and erosion - degradation leads to a critically low molecular weight at which erosion starts. This paper considers the underlying physical and chemical processes of hydrolytic degradation and erosion. Several kinetic mechanisms are incorporated into a mathematical model in an attempt to explain different behaviours of mass loss observed in experiments. In the combined model, autocatalytic hydrolysis, oligomer production and their diffusion are considered together with surface and interior erosion using a set of differential equations and Monte Carlo technique. Oligomer and drug diffusion are modelled using Fick's law with the diffusion coefficients dependent on porosity. The porosity is due to the formation of cavities which are a result of polymer erosion. The model can follow mass loss and drug release up to 100%, which cannot be explained using a simple reaction-diffusion. The model is applied to two case studies from the literature to demonstrate its validity. The case studies show that a critical molecular weight for the onset of polymer erosion and an incubation period for the polymer dissolution are two critical factors that need to be considered when predicting mass loss and drug release. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: In order to design bioresorbable implants, it is important to have a mathematical model to predict polymer degradation and corresponding drug release. However, very different behaviours of polymer degradation have been observed and there is no single model that can capture all these behaviours. For the first time, the model presented in this paper is capable of capture all these observed behaviours by switching on and off different underlying mechanisms. Unlike the existing reaction-diffusion models, the model presented here can follow the degradation and drug release all the way to the full disappearance of an implant.


K.S. gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by Turkey Ministry of National Education, YLSY program, for the research on this article. The authors would also like to state that this research used the ALICE High Performance Computing Facility at the University of Leicester.



Acta Biomaterialia, 2017, 66, pp. 192-199

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Engineering


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