Chapter 4


Biodegradable polymers are those that degrade both in vitro and in vivo into products that are either normal metabolites or into products that could be completely eliminated from the body with or without further metabolic transformations [20]. Biodegradation actually involves two complementary processes viz., degradation and erosion [21]. Degradation refers to the bond cleavage during which polymer chains are cleaved to low molecular weight fractions whereas erosion refers to the physical phenomena such as dissolution and diffusion of these low molecular weight fractions from the polymer matrix [22]. The degradation of polymers can take place passively by hydrolysis or actively by enzymatic reaction. The hydrolytically labile polymers are mostly preferred as biodegradable delivery systems due to their minimal site-to-site and patient-to-patient variation.

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