SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Polymers

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This research demonstrates the use of fill density as an effective tool for controlling the drug release without changing the formulation composition. The merger of hot-melt extrusion (HME) with fused deposition modeling (FDM)-based 3-dimensional (3-D) printing processes over the last decade has directed pharmaceutical research towards the possibility of printing personalized medication. One key aspect of printing patient-specific dosage forms is controlling the release dynamics based on the patient’s needs. The purpose of this research was to understand the impact of fill density and interrelate it with the release of a poorly water-soluble, weakly acidic, active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) from a hydroxypropyl methylcellulose acetate succinate (HPMC-AS) matrix, both mathematically and experimentally. Amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) of ibuprofen with three grades of AquaSolveTM HPMC-AS (HG, MG, and LG) were developed using an HME process and evaluated using solid-state characterization techniques. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), powder X-ray diffraction (pXRD), and polarized light microscopy (PLM) confirmed the amorphous state of the drug in both polymeric filaments and 3D printed tablets. The suitability of the manufactured filaments for FDM processes was investigated using texture analysis (TA) which showed robust mechanical properties of the developed filament compositions. Using FDM, tablets with different fill densities (20-80%) and identical dimensions were printed for each polymer. In vitro pH shift dissolution studies revealed that the fill density has a significant impact (F(11, 24) = 15,271.147, p < 0.0001) and a strong negative correlation (r > -0.99; p < 0.0001) with the release performance, where 20% infill demonstrated the fastest and most complete release, whereas 80% infill depicted a more controlled release. The results obtained from this research can be used to develop a robust formulation strategy to control the drug release from 3D printed dosage forms as a function of fill density.

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Photopolymers can be used to fabricate different holographic optical elements, although maximization of the phase-shift in photopolymers has been a challenge for the last few decades. Different material compositions and irradiation conditions have been studied in order to achieve it. One of the main conclusions has been that with continuous laser exposure better results are achieved. However, our results show for the first time that higher phase-shift can be achieved using a pulsed laser. The study has been conducted with crosslinked acrylamide-based photopolymers exposed with a pulsed laser (532 nm). The increment of the phase-shift between the pulsed laser and continuous laser exposure is 17%, achieving a maximum phase-shift of 3π radians and a refractive index shift of 0.0084 at the zero spatial frequency limit, where monomer diffusion does not take place. This allows this photopolymer to be used in large-scale manufacturing.

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Electrospinning is the leading technology to fabricate fibrous scaffolds that mimic the architecture of the extracellular matrix of natural tissues. In order to improve the biological response, a consolidated trend involves the blending of synthetic polymers with natural proteins to form protein-rich fibers that include selected biochemical cues able to more actively support in vitro cell interaction. In this study, we compared protein-rich fibers fabricated via electrospinning by the blending of poly ε-caprolactone (PCL) with three different proteins, i.e., gelatin, zein, and keratin, respectively. We demonstrated that the peculiar features of the proteins used significantly influence the morphological properties, in terms of fiber size and distribution. Moreover, keratin drastically enhances the fiber hydrophilicity (water contact angle equal to 44.3° ± 3.9°) with positive effects on cell interaction, as confirmed by the higher proliferation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) until 7 days. By contrast, gelatin and zein not equally contribute to the fiber wettability (water contact angles equal to 95.2° ± 1.2° and 76.3° ± 4.0°, respectively) due to morphological constraints, i.e., broader fiber diameter distribution ascribable to the non-homogeneous presence of the protein along the fibers, or chemical constrains, i.e., large amount of non-polar amino acids. According to in vitro experimental studies, which included SEM and confocal microscopy analyses and vitality assay, we concluded that keratin is the most promising protein to be combined with PCL for the fabrication of biologically instructive fibers for in vitro applications.

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Poly(2,5-alkylene furanoate)s are bio-based, smart, and innovative polymers that are considered the most promising materials to replace oil-based plastics. These polymers can be synthesized using ecofriendly approaches, starting from renewable sources, and result into final products with properties comparable and even better than those presented by their terephthalic counterparts. In this work, we present the molecular dynamics of four 100% bio-based poly(alkylene 2,5-furanoate)s, using broadband dielectric spectroscopy measurements that covered a wide temperature and frequency range. We unveiled complex local relaxations, characterized by the simultaneous presence of two components, which were dependent on thermal treatment. The segmental relaxation showed relaxation times and strengths depending on the glycolic subunit length, which were furthermore confirmed by high-frequency experiments in the molten region of the polymers. Our results allowed determining structure-property relations that are able to provide further understanding about the excellent barrier properties of poly(alkylene 2,5-furanoate)s. In addition, we provide results of high industrial interest during polymer processing for possible industrial applications of poly(alkylene furanoate)s.

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Polymer gel electrolytes have been prepared with polyethylene oxide (PEO) and the deep eutectic mixture of AlCl3: urea (uralumina), a liquid electrolyte which has proved to be an excellent medium for the electrodeposition of aluminum. The polymer gel electrolytes are prepared by mixing PEO in the liquid electrolyte at T > 65 °C, which is the melting point of PEO. This procedure takes a few minutes and requires no subsequent evaporation steps, being a solvent-free, and hence more sustainable procedure as compared to solvent-mediated ones. The absence of auxiliary solvents and evaporation steps makes their preparation highly reproducible and easy to scale up. PEO of increasing molecular weight (Mw = 1 × 105, 9 × 105, 50 × 105 and 80 × 105 g mol-1), including an ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polymer, has been used. Because of the strong interactions between the UHMW PEO and uralumina, self-standing gels can be produced with as little as 2.5 wt% PEO. These self-standing polymer gels maintain the ability to electrodeposit and strip aluminum, and are seen to retain a significant fraction of the current provided by the liquid electrolyte. Their gels' rheology and electrochemistry are stable for months, if kept under inert atmosphere, and their sensitivity to humidity is significantly lower than that of liquid uralumina, improving their stability in the event of accidental exposure to air, and hence, their safety. These polymer gels are tough and thermoplastic, which enable their processing and molding into different shapes, and their recyclability and reprocessability. Their thermoplasticity also allows the preparation of concentrated batches (masterbatch) for a posteriori dilution or additive addition. They are elastomeric (rubbery) and very sticky, which make them very robust, easy to manipulate and self-healing.

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Despite the large number of polymeric nanodelivery systems that have been recently developed, there is still room for improvement in terms of therapeutic efficiency. Most reported nanodevices for controlled release are based on drug encapsulation, which can lead to undesired drug leakage with a consequent reduction in efficacy and an increase in systemic toxicity. Herein, we present a strategy for covalent drug conjugation to the nanodevice to overcome this drawback. In particular, we characterize and evaluate an effective therapeutic polymeric PEGylated nanosystem for controlled pH-sensitive drug release on a breast cancer (MDA-MB-231) and two lung cancer (A549 and H520) cell lines. A significant reduction in the required drug dose to reach its half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50 value) was achieved by conjugation of the drug to the nanoparticles, which leads to an improvement in the therapeutic index by increasing the efficiency. The genotoxic effect of this nanodevice in cancer cells was confirmed by nucleus histone H2AX specific immunostaining. In summary, we successfully characterized and validated a pH responsive therapeutic polymeric nanodevice in vitro for controlled anticancer drug release.

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We report the study of the formation of Laser Induced Periodic Surface Structures (LIPSS), with UV femtosecond laser pulses (λ = 265 nm), in free-standing films of both Poly(trimethylene terephthalate) (PTT) and the composite PTT/tungsten disulfide inorganic nanotubes (PTT-WS2). We characterized the range of fluences and number of pulses necessary to induce LIPSS formation and measured the topography of the samples by Atomic Force Microscopy, the change in surface energy and contact angle using the sessile drop technique, and the modification in both Young’s modulus and adhesion force values with Peak Force-Quantitative Nanomechanical Mapping. LIPSS appeared parallel to the laser polarization with a period close to its wavelength in a narrow fluence and number of pulses regime, with PTT-WS2 needing slightly larger fluence than raw PTT due to its higher crystallinity and heat diffusion. Little change was found in the total surface energy of the samples, but there was a radical increase in the negative polar component (γ-). Besides, we measured small variations in the samples Young’s modulus after LIPSS formation whereas adhesion is reduced by a factor of four. This reduction, as well as the increase in γ-, is a result of the modification of the surface chemistry, in particular a slight oxidation, during irradiation.

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The first successful direct 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), of heat-cured silicone meniscal implants, using biocompatible and bio-implantable silicone resins is reported. Silicone implants have conventionally been manufactured by indirect silicone casting and molding methods which are expensive and time-consuming. A novel custom-made heat-curing extrusion-based silicone 3D printer which is capable of directly 3D printing medical silicone implants is introduced. The rheological study of silicone resins and the optimization of critical process parameters are described in detail. The surface and cross-sectional morphologies of the printed silicone meniscus implant were also included. A time-lapsed simulation study of the heated silicone resin within the nozzle using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was done and the results obtained closely resembled real time 3D printing. Solidworks one-convection model simulation, when compared to the on-off model, more closely correlated with the actual probed temperature. Finally, comparative mechanical study between 3D printed and heat-molded meniscus is conducted. The novel 3D printing process opens up the opportunities for rapid 3D printing of various customizable medical silicone implants and devices for patients and fills the current gap in the additive manufacturing industry.

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Metals used for food canning such as aluminum (Al), chromium-coated tin-free steel (TFS) and electrochemically tin-plated steel (ETP) were coated with a 2-3-µm-thick layer of polyaleuritate, the polyester resulting from the self-esterification of naturally-occurring 9,10,16-trihydroxyhexadecanoic (aleuritic) acid. The kinetic of the esterification was studied by FTIR spectroscopy; additionally, the catalytic activity of the surface layer of chromium oxide on TFS and, in particular, of tin oxide on ETP, was established. The texture, gloss and wettability of coatings were characterized by AFM, UV-Vis total reflectance and static water contact angle (WCA) measurements. The resistance of the coatings to solvents was also determined and related to the fraction of unreacted polyhydroxyacid. The occurrence of an oxidative diol cleavage reaction upon preparation in air induced a structural modification of the polyaleuritate layer and conferred upon it thermal stability and resistance to solvents. The promoting effect of the tin oxide layer in such an oxidative cleavage process fosters the potential of this methodology for the design of effective long-chain polyhydroxyester coatings on ETP.

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In this work, we investigated the functionalization of polyketone 30 (PK30) with glycyl-glycine (Gly-Gly) via the Paal-Knorr reaction with the aim of homogenously dispersing two types of reduced graphene oxide (rGO, i.e., lrGO and hrGO, the former characterized by a lower degree of reduction in comparison to the latter) by non-covalent interactions. The functional PK30-Gly-Gly polymer was effective in preparing composites with homogeneously distributed rGO characterized by an effective percolation threshold at 5 wt. %. All the composites showed a typical semiconductive behavior and stable electrical response after several heating/cooling cycles from 30 to 115 °C. Composites made by hrGO displayed the same resistive behaviour even if flanked by a considerable improvement on conductivity, in agreement with the more reduced rGO content. Interestingly, no permanent percolative network was shown by the composite with 4 wt. % of lrGO at temperatures higher than 45 °C. This material can be used as an ON-OFF temperature sensor and could find interesting applications as sensing material in soft robotics applications.