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Polyanhydrides

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  • Polyanhydrides are a class of biodegradable polymers characterized by anhydride bonds that connect repeat units of the polymer backbone chain.
  • Their main application is in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry. In vivo, polyanhydrides degrade into non-toxic diacid monomers that can be metabolized and eliminated from the body.
  • Owing to their safe degradation products, polyanhydrides are considered to be biocompatible.
  • Over the past two decades, polyanhydrides have been investigated for short-term controlled delivery of the bioactive agents because they exhibit rapid degradation in vivo and have limited mechanical properties .
  • Polyanhydrides are the hydrophobic polymers with hydrolytically labile anhydride linkages, in which the degradation rate can be manipulated by varying polymer composition.
  • Polyanhydrides are known to undergo surface erosion, a desired property to attain near zero-order drug release profile .
  • Recently, due to their biocompatibility and biodegradability, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the polyanhydride derived from sebacic acid and 1,3-bis(p-carboxyphenoxy) propane as the carrier of antitumor agents for the treatment of brain cancer .
  • One drawback of polyanhydrides is that most of them have to be stored at frozen state under the anhydrous condition because of the hydrolytic instability of the anhydride bond.
  • The main advantage of using polyanhydrides for medical applications is that they gradually degrade into nontoxic, small molecular weight products after their intended use in drug delivery, obviating the need for retrieval.
  • The most widely used tech- nique for polyanhydride synthesis is melt polycondensation, which occurs in two steps. In the first step, dicarboxylic acid monomers react with excess acetic an- hydride to form acetyl-terminated anhydride prepolymers with a degree of polymerization. The activated monomers are then polymerized at an elevated temperature (if necessary) under vacuum to yield polyanhydrides.

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