Akina

What Polymer May Suit My Application?

Over time,the PolySciTech catalog has grown to include several hundred products. This has left many researchers feeling a bit overwhelmed by the numerous options. If you’re looking for a simple starting point, this is the guide for you. Note, if you know the chemical composition that you are interested in, you can also narrow down the selections on our category page.

This guide will help you, starting from your application, to quickly narrow down the available polymer options to an initial suggestion to use as a starting point for your research. This is just a small sampling of most common applications and is in no way a comprehensive guide. If you would like to discuss your application in detail, you can also reach out to our technical contact. If you’re just exploring polymers for biomedical applications and want to learn more, check out our Polymer University video series for a quick explanation.

Overview

Polymers 101: What is a polymer

everypolymer.com

Thermogel
Dissolves in cold water and transitions to a gel when heated. Good for delivery of delicate, large-molecule type medicine or time-controlled release.

Biodegradable (PLGA-PEG-PLGA type)

Speed of degradation

~1 - 2 weeks PolyVivo AK088: gel from 30-40°C, max ~35°C, relatively quick degradation due to higher glycolide content

~2 weeks PolyVivo AK097: gel from 33-44°C, max ~39°C, moderate degradation due to high lactide content

~2-3 weeks PolyVivo AK100: gel from 31 - 42°C, max ~37°C, slower degradation as it is totally lactide

~1 month PolyVivo AK109: gel from 27 to >45°C, max ~36°C, very slow degradation due to PLCL chains

Tunable LCST

Due to the block MW’s, PLGA-PEG-PLGA Polymers AK012 and AK024 typically exhibit a gel point roughly close to room temperature (~17 – 23 °C) while AK019 exhibits a gel point >37 °C. By mixing these together in solution-phase, a range of gel temperatures can be achieved to create a tunable gelling solution.

White Paper: Thermogel Mixtures impact on Rheology

Publications using AK019

Non-degradable (polyNIPAM type)

There are a wide range of thermogels, which are not polyester based. Many are based on copolymers including n-isopropylacrylamide (NIPAM) as well as other thermogelling vinyl-type polymers such as poly(vinylcaprolactam). AO023 Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylamide) and AO031 Poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) are two popular options of each type. Here is a complete list.

Publications using AO023

Publications using AO031

I want Regel®!

For historical reasons, this is a very common request. To be clear, Akina, Inc. does not manufacture or sell the Regel® branded product. This specific material was originally developed separately as part of an experimental cancer therapy which failed to progress past clinical trial stage. To the best of our knowledge, the Regel® branded product is not available for purchase anywhere.

That being said, Akina, Inc. does sell PLGA-PEG-PLGA block products which exhibit similar properties for use as research materials.

Additional Info

Polymers 105: Thermogels

Educational video on biodegradable thermogelling polymers with focus on PLGA-PEG-PLGA block copolymer.

WhitePaper:Thermogel Users Guide

WhitePaper:Viscosity and Thermal Properties (AK012)

Testing effects of additives on thermogel dissolution.

Introduction to thermogelation: Thermogels.com

3D printing of thermogels

Thermogel publications

Micelles
Create a polymer micelle/polymerosome. Good for improving solubility of poorly soluble drug.

Polymers 103: Micelles

Introduction to hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, interfacial tension, and micelle formation.

Micelles represent a good way to improve the solubility of poorly soluble drugs by enabling a hydrophobic core which helps the solubility of the drug. Block PEG-polyester polymers can dissolve in water directly if 1) the PEG chain is of similar size or larger than the polyester chain and, 2) the polyester chain is not highly crystalline (i.e. PLLA does not dissolve well due to crystalline structure of the PLLA block, but PDLLa dissolves easily). A good starting polymer for this application is AK009 (mPEG-PLA).

Publications using AK009

White Paper: Passive dissolution of Coumarin-6 into water by PolyVivo

polymermicelles.com

Nanoparticles
Small size (<1 um). Good for improving blood-circulation/stability/targeting.

Nanoparticles reference a solid (water insoluble) suspension consisting of sub-micron sized particles which can be used for drug delivery. View a list of publications related to this is widely researched usage of these kinds of polymers.

Pegylated Nanoparticles: long-circulating nanoparticle

Pegylation shields nanoparticles from immune response and allows them to spend a longer time in the blood-stream than without this protection. A good starting material for this application is AK010 which can be blended with normal PLGA to create nanoparticles covered with a PEG shell.

Publications using AK010

Targeted Nanoparticles: decorated nanoparticle targeting a specific marker/cell-type, i.e., targeted cancer therapy

A popular mechanism to create nanoparticles which are optimized for targeted drug delivery includes conjugating a targeting ligand to the nanoparticle to control its attachment to specific cells/sites. An example protocol for this is available at Uncommon Polymer. A good starting polymer for this is AI020 (PLGA-PEG-Mal). Note that typically this polymer is blended with non-reactive mPEG-PLGA of comparable size.

Publications using AI020

Additional Info

Polymer 104: Microparticles and Nanoparticles

Introduction to applying polymer medicinal-delivery systems as microparticles and nanoparticles for controlled release.

Polymer 106: Drug Delivery

Drug delivery technology and applications including intestinal uptake, targeted nanoparticle therapy, and crossing the blood-brain-barrier explained through a humorous encounter with TSA.

Introduction to nanoparticle formation: Smallworld.com

Nanoparticle formation and ligand conjugation: Uncommonpolymer.com

Polymermicelles.com

Microparticles
Create a long-acting depot delivery of microparticles ( ~ 1 – 150 um in size) for controlled release/long-acting delivery.

Microparticles are useful for creating long-acting injectable formulations which are often applied either as an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection to allow for long-lasting delivery. These are typically comprised of PLGA or PLA and the release properties depend on the diffusion characteristics of the drug through the particle as well as the degradation properties of the polymer. The type of PLGA/PLA used highly depends on its degradation rate. Roughly, the degradation rate decreases with increasing lactide content and increasing molecular weight with ester-endcap products having slightly slower degradation than acid-endcap products (See trends here).

Fast Degradation Rate Medium Degradation Rate Slow Degradation Rate

Additional Info

Polymer 102: Biodegradation

Introduction to polyester degradation, chemistry and rate-controlling factors.

Polymer 104: Microparticles and Nanoparticles

Introduction to applying polymer medicinal-delivery systems as microparticles and nanoparticles for controlled release.

normalpolymer.com

Small World

lazypolymer.com

3D-Printing
3D print a biodegradable polymer.

3D printing is a unique manufacturing technique which enables an incredible degree of control over the polymer design. There are two primary methods included for this one:

Thermogel-Printing Melt-Printing
  • Although no product is provided in 3mm rod format several materials have been used for 3D printing in melt stage. A good starting material for this would be PLCL (AP179) as it provides ease of porocessability combined with good mechanical properties.
  • Publications using AP179

3D-Printing Gel

Publications

Tissue Scaffold
Create a mechanically robust scaffold for tissue repair/support.

Polymers can be formulated into scaffolds and meshes by a variety of techniques to help repair injured/missing tissues. Several examples of this can be seen in the published literature here. Ideally the material should match the mechanical properties of the tissue to be repaired. The following general suggestions are made for each tissue type:

Bone Cartilage Neural Smooth muscle

Polymers 102 Biodegradation

Introduction to polyester degradation, chemistry and rate-controlling factors.

normalpolymer.com

lazypolymer.com

Implant or Implant Coating
Surgically implant a device or coat an implant (e.g. cardiovascular stent, catheter, etc.) to slowly release drug over time.

Often drug delivery can be accomplished by a surgical implant or implants are coated with a material in order to provide a specific functionality to their usage. You can see recent publications on surgical implants here. Typically, implant coatings need a fairly robust mechanical property such as a higher-lactide PLGA like AP049.

Publications using AP049

Oral Delivery
Create a formulation to improve uptake across the intestine of an oral formulation.

Some drugs which are taken orally have poor uptake across the intestine (low bioavailability) or are unstable under stomach conditions and tend to degrade before they can actually enter the blood-stream. Formulations can be utilized to improve the uptake of drug and you can see publications regarding these here.

Often, these applications are formulation of the material within nanoparticles. In this case we suggest you check the suggestions for nanoparticle delivery.

Polymers 106 Drug Delivery

Drug delivery technology and applications including intestinal uptake, targeted nanoparticle therapy, and crossing the blood-brain-barrier explained through a humorous encounter with TSA.

How to make micelles: polymermicelles.com

How to make small formulations (nanoparticles): Small World

Ligand targeting: uncommonpolymer.com

Cancer Modeling
Create 3D cancer spheroid to model cancer microenvironment in vitro.

PolySciTech Product for Cancer Modeling is 3DCellMaker. We suggest starting with the 3DCellMaker Solution Seeded 5 ml Kit as a starting point as this enables seeding of the cells into the solution phase as well as the gel phase.

Learn more about 3DCellMaker and find out how it can help grow better cell cultures for better test results:

White Paper:A Nimble Alternative to Cumbersome Extracellular Matrices: Culture of MCF-7 in 3DCellMaker vs Matrigel®

Poster:3DCellMakers: Thermogelling Polymers for 3D Cell Culture and Supplemental Data

3DCellMaker User Manual for using 3DCellMaker for both gel seeding and solution seeding applications.

pH-sensing Hydrogels
Materials that flex/change in response to pH changes.

Akina has a pH sensitive hydrogel formulation referenced as Aquagel-pH. You can see publications for this one here. This is a general first suggestion for a pH sensitive hydrogel however other formulations can be generated upon request.

Polymers 101: What is a polymer

everypolymer.com

3DCellMaker User Manual for using 3DCellMaker for both gel seeding and solution seeding applications.

References

Calibration
Well-characterized polyesters to use for calibrating an instrument or for comparing against other polymers.

A series of well-characterized polymer standards designed for calibrating instruments and processes is available. If you simply want bulk PLGA, we suggest you purchase the raw material.

Polymers 101: What is a polymer

everypolymer.com

3DCellMaker User Manual for using 3DCellMaker for both gel seeding and solution seeding applications.

Polymer Molecular Weight Illustrative

everypolymer.com

lazypolymer.com

normalpolymer.com

Visualization
Use fluorescence and other imaging techniques to track a formulation.

Often tracking a polymer system requires the polymer to be dye-conjugated so it can be seen using fluorescent techniques. For typical microscopy a good starting point is a FITC-conjugated PLGA which is a popular dye region for many imaging systems. For in-vivo imaging, a near-IR fluorescent dye is suggested.

Visual range fluorescent Near-IR range fluorescent (Example FITC)

White Paper: PolyVivo AV006 (PLGA-FPI749) In-Vivo Imaging Study

Other

 

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