Biomedical polymers refer to polymer materials used in the diagnosis, treatment, repair or replacement of biological tissues or organs of physiological system diseases to enhance or restore their functions. Polymers in biomedical applications are: non-toxic, biodegradable, biocompatible and meet the required specification for which they are intended because it has direct contact with the human body. With the growing field of regenerative medicine and medical devices, biomedical polymers dominate the soft tissue engineering and drug delivery industry and are gradually replacing metals and ceramics in the hard tissue engineering field as well.
Figure 1. Biomedical polymers
Biomedical polymers are mainly divided into natural biomedical polymers and synthetic biomedical polymers.
Natural biomedical polymers
Natural biomedical polymers are biocompatible and biodegradable macromolecules which can be classified into the following groups: proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids. To be exploited as materials for biomedical devices, natural biomedical polymers are either sourced from tissues derived from living organisms or are synthesized and processed using in vitro techniques via cell culture, recombinant approaches or using cell-free synthetic systems. As the most abundant connective tissue protein in mammals, collagen holds the position as one of the most commonly used natural biomedical polymers for biomedical applications. The key properties that are desirable for medical applications include the ability to be remodeled and degraded in animals via collagenase digestion and the capacity for interacting with many different cell types via adhesion sequences. Fibrin sealants, which can be used for hemostasis and as adhesives for tissue engineering applications in various surgical procedures. Fibrin-based scaffolds also play a key role in bone, skin, cardiovascular and neural tissue engineering and drug delivery.
Figure 2. Collagen as natural biomedical polymer
Synthetic biomedical polymers
Since natural biomedical materials are limited, people need large amounts of biomaterials to maintain their health. Synthetic biomedical polymers are widely used in the medical field because they have extremely similar chemical structure and physical properties to natural polymers of human organ tissues. Synthetic polymers are man-made polymers, and can be degradable or non-degradable. As biomaterials, degradable synthetic biomedical polymers are a more viable alternative to the natural biomedical polymers. Synthetic biomedical polymers may not be as biologically active as natural biomedical polymers, but they are easily manufactured on a large scale, have greater durability, and have properties that can be easily tailored to specific applications. Poly(a-esters) are polymers with hydrolytically liable aliphatic ester bonds in their backbone. They can be easily synthesized via ring opening or condensation polymerization. They are the most commercially available and researched polymers for biomedical applications. For example, polyglycolic acid (PGA) has been used to fabricate fracture fixation material and tissue engineering scaffolds.
Figure 3. Polyglycolic acid as synthetic biomedical polymer
At present, Alfa Chemistry mainly provides raw materials for synthesizing biomedical polymers, such as poly tetra fluoroethylene, polyesters, poly (amino acid), polyethylene, epoxy resins and so on, if you do not find what you need, please contact us.