, Volume 9, Issue 12, pp 825-833

New starch-based thermoplastic hydrogels for use as bone cements or drug-delivery carriers

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The development of new biodegradable hydrogels, based on corn starch/cellulose acetate blends, produced by free-radical polymerization with methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA) and/or an acrylic acid monomer (AA), is reported. The polymerization was initiated by a redox system consisting of a benzoyl peroxide and 4-dimethlyaminobenzyl alcohol at low temperature. These hydrogels may constitute an alternative to the materials currently used as bone cements or drug-delivery carriers. Swelling studies were carried out, as a function of pH and temperature, in buffered solutions. The xerogels were further characterized by Fourier transform–infrared spectroscopy. Tensile and compression tests, and dynamic mechanical thermal analysis were used to assess the mechanical performance of the developed materials. The fracture surfaces were observed by scanning electron microscopy. The developed materials are sensitive to the pH, showing a clear reversible transition in a relatively narrow interval of pH, which is just in the range of physiological conditions. These properties make the materials developed in this study very promising for biomedical applications. Fickian-type diffusion is the mechanism predominant in these systems, except for the composition with a higher concentration of AA, that corresponds to the most desirable kinetical behavior for controlled release (case II-transport mechanism). Furthermore, the results obtained in the mechanical tests are in the range of those reported for typical PMMA bone cements, showing that it is possible to develop partially degradable cements with an adequate mechanical behavior. © 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers