Polymers2014, 6(3), 776-798; doi:10.3390/polym6030776 (doi registration under processing) - published online 12 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been conjugated to many drugs or drug carriers to increase their solubility and circulating lifetime, and reduce toxicity. This has motivated many experimental studies to understand the effect of PEGylation on delivery efficiency. To complement the experimental findings and uncover the mechanism that cannot be captured by experiments, all-atom and coarse-grained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have been performed. This has become possible, due to recent advances in simulation methodologies and computational power. Simulations of PEGylated peptides show that PEG chains wrap antimicrobial peptides and weaken their binding interactions with lipid bilayers. PEGylation also influences the helical stability and tertiary structure of coiled-coil peptides. PEGylated dendrimers and single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were simulated, showing that the PEG size and grafting density significantly modulate the conformation and structure of the PEGylated complex, the interparticle aggregation, and the interaction with lipid bilayers. In particular, simulations predicted the structural transition between the dense core and dense shell of PEGylated dendrimers, the phase behavior of self-assembled complexes of lipids, PEGylated lipids, and SWNTs, which all favorably compared with experiments. Overall, these new findings indicate that simulations can now predict the experimentally observed structure and dynamics, as well as provide atomic-scale insights into the interactions of PEGylated complexes with other molecules.
Polymers2014, 6(3), 755-775; doi:10.3390/polym6030755 (doi registration under processing) - published online 12 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A stent is a medical device for serving as an internal scaffold to maintain or increase the lumen of a body conduit. Stent placement has become a primary treatment option in coronary artery disease for more than the last two decades. The stenting is also currently used for relieving the symptoms of narrowed lumen of nonvascular organs, such as esophagus, trachea and bronchi, small and large intestines, biliary, and urinary tract. Local delivery of active pharmaceutical agents via the stents can not only enhance healing of certain diseases, but it can also help decrease the potential risk of the stenting procedure to the surrounding tissue. In this review, we focus on reviewing a variety of drug-impregnated stents and local drug delivery systems using the stents.
Polymers2014, 6(3), 706-754; doi:10.3390/polym6030706 (doi registration under processing) - published online 12 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: With the impending fossil fuel crisis, the search for and development of alternative chemical/material substitutes is pivotal in reducing mankind’s dependency on fossil resources. One of the potential substitute candidates is polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). PHA is a carbon-neutral and valuable polymer that could be produced from many renewable carbon sources by microorganisms, making it a sustainable and environmental-friendly material. At present, PHA is not cost competitive compared to fossil-derived products. Encouraging and intensifying research work on PHA is anticipated to enhance its economic viability in the future. The development of various biomolecular and chemical techniques for PHA analysis has led to the identification of many PHA-producing microbial strains, some of which are deposited in culture collections. Research work on PHA could be rapidly initiated with these ready-to-use techniques and microbial strains. This review aims to facilitate the start-up of PHA research by providing a summary of commercially available PHA-accumulating microbial cultures, PHA biosynthetic pathways, and methods for PHA detection, extraction and analysis.
Polymers2014, 6(3), 686-705; doi:10.3390/polym6030686 - published online 11 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The performance as reinforcement of a fibrillar protein such as feather keratin fiber over a biopolymeric matrix composed of polysaccharides was evaluated in this paper. Three different kinds of keratin reinforcement were used: short and long biofibers and rachis particles. These were added separately at 5, 10, 15 and 20 wt% to the chitosan-starch matrix and the composites were processed by a casting/solvent evaporation method. The morphological characteristics, mechanical and thermal properties of the matrix and composites were studied by scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and dynamic mechanical analysis. The thermal results indicated that the addition of keratin enhanced the thermal stability of the composites compared to pure matrix. This was corroborated with dynamic mechanical analysis as the results revealed that the storage modulus of the composites increased with respect to the pure matrix. The morphology, evaluated by scanning electron microscopy, indicated a uniform dispersion of keratin in the chitosan-starch matrix as a result of good compatibility between these biopolymers, also corroborated by FTIR. These results demonstrate that chicken feathers can be useful to obtain novel keratin reinforcements and develop new green composites providing better properties, than the original biopolymer matrix.
Polymers2014, 6(3), 667-685; doi:10.3390/polym6030667 - published online 10 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study concerns improvement of flexural stiffness/strength of concrete members reinforced with externally bonded, aluminum-glass fiber composite (AGC) beams. An experimental program, consisting of seven reinforced concrete slabs and seven reinforced concrete beams strengthened in flexure with AGC beams, was initiated under four-point bending in order to evaluate three parameters: the cross-sectional shape of the AGC beam, the glass fiber fabric array, and the installation of fasteners. The load-deflection response, strain distribution along the longitudinal axis of the beam, and associated failure modes of the tested specimens were recorded. It was observed that the AGC beam led to an increase of the initial cracking load, yielding load of the tension steels and peak load. On the other hand, the ductility of some specimens strengthened was reduced by more than 50%. The A-type AGC beam was more efficient in slab specimens than in beam specimens and the B-type was more suitable for beam specimens than for slabs.
Polymers2014, 6(3), 651-666; doi:10.3390/polym6030651 - published online 6 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Polymer gels are known to be opaque when the preparation conditions, such as the reaction temperature and the composition, are changed. The increase of the opaqueness of the gel suggests strongly the change of network structure. Here, we are going to review the recent studies on the structure and the frictional study of the opaque poly(acrylamide) gel. The results indicate that the opaque poly(acrylamide) gel consists of the fractal aggregate of the colloidal particles of sub-micrometer in size. The density of the colloid particle is calculated from the structural parameters and is found to be of the order of about 1 g/cm3. The results indicate that the main chain component and the cross-linker is densely cross-linked into the particle. The frictional property of poly(acrylamide) gel is analyzed in terms of the structural parameters of the gel. It is found that the frictional property of the opaque gel is well explained in terms of the structural parameters of the opaque gel.