'Skin-like' flexible polymer developed for regenerative medicine

Toray IndustriesA bioresorbable polymer that snaps back to its original shape, even after being stretched 10 times its initial length, has been developed by Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo). The company also has identified a technology to accelerate degradation of the polymer by means of hydrolysis. The material would benefit regenerative medicine and other medical applications as well as various industrial uses.

A novel co-polymerization method involving lactide, dimers of lactic acid and caprolactone enabled Toray to significantly reduce crystallinity and impart flexibility and rupture resistance to the material. Furthermore, by controlling hydrolysis of the polymer, Toray was able to increase the decomposition speed tenfold.

Tissue reconstruction treatment is one medical application that would benefit from this polymer with “skin-like” flexibility. Polymer-based medical materials are typically used as temporary scaffolding while the injured flexible tissue regenerates, explained Toray in its March 14 announcement. The material resorbs once the healing process is complete, eliminating the need for additional surgery.

In a desk study, the outer surface of a 3-mm-diameter vascular graft made from a polyester fiber was coated with the polymer. The material didn’t buckle even when the device was bent, and it flexibly followed the movement of the vascular graft, said Toray.

The company said that it will pursue further development of its bioresorbable polymer as a scaffolding material in regenerative medicine involving blood vessels, skin, digestive and urinary organs, and muscles.

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