The aim is to synthesise a series of novel biodegradable polymers consisting of polyoxonorbornene backbones with poly (hydroxyacid) side chains, and to study the variation in physical and mechanical properties of these polymers as a function of degradation under simulated biological conditions. A series of mono- and did-alcohol substituted oxonorbornenes will be synthesised and used as initiators for the ring opening polymerisation of lactate and glycoside to make oxonorbornenyl polyhydroxyacid macro monomers which will then be subjected to ring opening metathesis polymerisation (ROMP) to prepare the target biodegradable polymers. This synthetic approach will give complete control of the side chain and backbone chain lengths. This strategy will allow the study of variables such as the nature of the ROMP fragment, the length and composition of the degradable side chain, the size of the backbone, and the side chain density of the polymer prior to degradation. This project brings together a multi-disciplinary research team to develop bioresorbable polymers, which degrade in such a way that their mechanical properties change gradually from a rigid material to an increasingly flexible material before bioresorption is complete. In this way increasing load is introduced gradually onto the supported bone or tissue, which aids the healing process. This feature, combined with good mechanical properties on implantation would lead to the use of these materials in biomedical applications such as temporary hard and soft tissue fixation. Current implant polymers (polylactide, polyglycolide) do not provide this behaviour, with mass loss resulting in relatively sudden loss of mechanical properties on degradation, but no continuum of change from inelastic to elastic behaviour. The medical device industry as a whole will benefit from the outcome of this new class of materials from which to fashion devices for patient benefit.
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