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Biodegradable polymers have medical uses

ATLANTA, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. medical engineers say they have developed biodegradable polymers that might help improve treatment of acute inflammatory illnesses.

Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Niren Murthy said a family of biodegradable polymers called polyketals and their derivatives might improve treatment for such inflammatory illnesses as acute lung injury, acute liver failure and inflammatory bowel disease by delivering drugs, proteins and snips of ribonucleic acid to disease locations in the body.

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"The polyketal microparticles we developed are simply a vehicle to get the drugs inside the body to the diseased area as quickly as possible," said Murthy. "The major advantage to using these polyketals … is that they degrade into biocompatible compounds that don't accumulate in a patient's tissue or cause additional inflammation."

Murthy said polyketals are stable in both acids and bases, degrading only in the presence of reactive oxygen species, which are present in and around inflamed tissue.

"We think these microparticles are going to be fantastic for oral drug delivery because they can survive the stomach conditions before they release their contents in the intestines," added Murthy.

The study was presented Tuesday in Philadelphia by graduate student Scott Wilson during a national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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