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Special Issue "Natural Polymers 2014"

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A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Christine E. Schmidt

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, BMSB JG-42, P.O. Box 116131, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
E-Mail
Phone: +1 352-273-9222
Fax: +1 352-273-9221
Interests: biomaterials; scaffolds; natural polymers; electrically conducting polymers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue came as the natural consequence of the great success of the previous one “Natural Polymers”.

Contributions are invited that specifically involve polymers of a natural or biological origin, namely proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides. Of particular interest are research studies or review articles related to the following areas: (1) connections between polymer science fundamentals with the understanding and applications of natural polymers, including the structure, behavior and uses of natural polymers in solutions, complexes and at interfaces with other materials; (2) bioengineering applications of natural polymers, including tissue engineering, clinical medicine, as well as pharmaceutical and food technologies; and we particularly encourage; (3) novel applications of natural polymers, including their use in bioMEMs devices and nanotechnology as well as novel modifications of natural polymers to enhance their properties by functionalization, cross-linking, or forming composite or co-polymer structures with other materials.

Prof. Dr. Christine E. Schmidt
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs).


Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessCommunication Influence of Surface Treatment on Tensile Properties of Low-Density Polyethylene/Cellulose Woven Biocomposites: A Preliminary Study
Polymers 2014, 6(9), 2345-2356; doi:10.3390/polym6092345
Received: 5 June 2014 / Revised: 9 August 2014 / Accepted: 3 September 2014 / Published: 12 September 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (7275 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cellulose woven (CW) was surface treated by means of hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide surfactant (HTAB) in aqueous solution medium at elevated temperature. The parameters of the surface treatment that have been studied are HTAB concentration (0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 wt%) and treatment time
[...] Read more.
Cellulose woven (CW) was surface treated by means of hexadecyltrimethylammonium bromide surfactant (HTAB) in aqueous solution medium at elevated temperature. The parameters of the surface treatment that have been studied are HTAB concentration (0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 wt%) and treatment time (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 h). The untreated and treated CW filled low-density polyethylene (LDPE) biocomposites were prepared via compression molding technique. The tensile testing results of LDPE/CW biocomposites demonstrated that the optimum HTAB concentration for treatment of CW in 1 h was 0.4 wt%, while the optimum treatment time at 0.4 wt% HTAB was 2 h. The SEM (scanning electron microscope) images indicated that there is no significant difference in the morphology of the untreated and treated CW; however the morphology of the LDPE/treated CW biocomposite showed better interfacial adhesion as compared with the untreated ones. The FTIR (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) spectra revealed that the presence of HTAB on the surface of treated CW and also revealed the existence of intermolecular interactions between LDPE and treated CW. In summary, HTAB could potentially be used as a treatment agent for modifying the surface of CW and consequently improved the tensile properties of LDPE/CW biocomposites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Open AccessArticle Casein Films: The Effects of Formulation, Environmental Conditions and the Addition of Citric Pectin on the Structure and Mechanical Properties
Polymers 2014, 6(7), 2018-2036; doi:10.3390/polym6072018
Received: 1 October 2013 / Revised: 12 June 2014 / Accepted: 30 June 2014 / Published: 14 July 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2628 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Thin casein films for food packaging applications reportedly possess good strength and low oxygen permeability, but low elasticity and high sensitivity to moisture. Modifying the films to target specific behaviors depending on environmental conditions can enable a variety of commercial applications for casein-based
[...] Read more.
Thin casein films for food packaging applications reportedly possess good strength and low oxygen permeability, but low elasticity and high sensitivity to moisture. Modifying the films to target specific behaviors depending on environmental conditions can enable a variety of commercial applications for casein-based films. The mechanical properties of solvent-cast (15% solids) calcium-caseinate/glycerol films (CaCas:Gly ratio of 3:1) were characterized as a function of processing and environmental conditions, including film thickness, solution formulation and ambient humidity (from 22% to 70% relative humidity (RH) at ~20 °C). At constant RH, the elongation at break (EAB) had a strong positive dependence on the film thickness. When RH increased, the tensile strength (TS) and modulus (E) decreased approximately linearly, while EAB increased. From 0.05% to 1% (w/w) of citric pectin (CP) was then incorporated into CaCas/Gly films following seven different formulations (mixing sequences), to alter the protein network and to evaluate the effects of CP on the tensile properties of CaCas/Gly/CP films. At constant film thickness and ~60% RH, the addition of 0.1% or 1.0% CP to the films considerably increased or decreased EAB, TS and E in different directions and to different extents, depending on the formulation, while optical micrographs also showed vastly differing network configurations, suggesting complex formulation- and stoichiometry-dependent casein-pectin interactions within the dried films. Depending on the desired film properties and utilization conditions, pectin may be a useful addition to casein film formulations for food packaging applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Open AccessArticle Optimization of Biopolymer Based Transdermal Films of Metoclopramide as an Alternative Delivery Approach
Polymers 2014, 6(5), 1350-1365; doi:10.3390/polym6051350
Received: 27 January 2014 / Revised: 29 April 2014 / Accepted: 30 April 2014 / Published: 9 May 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (484 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objectives of this study were to develop and to characterize sodium alginate based matrix-type transdermal films of metoclopramide hydrochloride (MTC) in order to improve patient compliance to treatment. The suitability of sodium alginate was shown to be a natural film former in
[...] Read more.
The objectives of this study were to develop and to characterize sodium alginate based matrix-type transdermal films of metoclopramide hydrochloride (MTC) in order to improve patient compliance to treatment. The suitability of sodium alginate was shown to be a natural film former in terms of the physicochemical, mechanical, and bioadhesive features of the MTC loaded transdermal films. Terpinolene provided the highest drug release among the different terpenes (nerolidol, eucalyptol, dl-limonene, or terpinolene) assessed as enhancer. Attenuated Total Reflectance Infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy analysis performed to evaluate the effect of the transdermal films on skin barrier confirmed enhancer induced lipid bilayer disruption in stratum corneum, indicating its permeation enhancement effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
Open AccessArticle Analysis of the Influence of the Fiber Type in Polymer Matrix/Fiber Bond Using Natural Organic Polymer Stabilizer
Polymers 2014, 6(4), 977-994; doi:10.3390/polym6040977
Received: 8 February 2014 / Revised: 18 March 2014 / Accepted: 20 March 2014 / Published: 31 March 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2053 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This research study compares the effect of polypropylene and wool fibers on the mechanical properties of natural polymer based stabilized soils. Biocomposites are becoming increasingly prevalent and this growth is expected to continue within a number of sectors including building materials. The aim
[...] Read more.
This research study compares the effect of polypropylene and wool fibers on the mechanical properties of natural polymer based stabilized soils. Biocomposites are becoming increasingly prevalent and this growth is expected to continue within a number of sectors including building materials. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of different fiber reinforced natural polymer stabilized soils with regards to mechanical properties and fiber adhesion characteristics. The polymer includes alginate, which is used in a wide range of applications but has not been commonly used within engineering and construction applications. In recent years, natural fibers have started to be used as an ecological friendly alternative for soil reinforcement within a variety of construction applications. Test results in this study have compared the effects of adding natural and synthetic fibers to clay soils and discussed the importance of an optimum soil specification. A correlation between the micro structural analysis using scanning electron microscope (SEM), fiber typology, fiber–matrix bonds and the mechanical properties of the stabilized soils is also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Open AccessArticle All Green Composites from Fully Renewable Biopolymers: Chitosan-Starch Reinforced with Keratin from Feathers
Polymers 2014, 6(3), 686-705; doi:10.3390/polym6030686
Received: 30 January 2014 / Revised: 1 March 2014 / Accepted: 4 March 2014 / Published: 11 March 2014
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (2309 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
[...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Low Molecular Weight Chitosan (LMWC)-based Polyplexes for pDNA Delivery: From Bench to Bedside
Polymers 2014, 6(6), 1727-1755; doi:10.3390/polym6061727
Received: 14 February 2014 / Revised: 21 May 2014 / Accepted: 26 May 2014 / Published: 16 June 2014
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (2212 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Non-viral gene delivery vectors are emerging as a safer alternative to viral vectors. Among natural polymers, chitosan (Ch) is the most studied one, and low molecular weight Ch, specifically, presents a wide range of advantages for non-viral pDNA delivery. It is crucial to
[...] Read more.
Non-viral gene delivery vectors are emerging as a safer alternative to viral vectors. Among natural polymers, chitosan (Ch) is the most studied one, and low molecular weight Ch, specifically, presents a wide range of advantages for non-viral pDNA delivery. It is crucial to determine the best process for the formation of Low Molecular Weight Chitosan (LMWC)-pDNA complexes and to characterize their physicochemical properties to better understand their behavior once the polyplexes are administered. The transfection efficiency of Ch based polyplexes is relatively low. Therefore, it is essential to understand all the transfection process, including the cellular uptake, endosomal escape and nuclear import, together with the parameters involved in the process to improve the design and development of the non-viral vectors. The aim of this review is to describe the formation and characterization of LMWC based polyplexes, the in vitro transfection process and finally, the in vivo applications of LMWC based polyplexes for gene therapy purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Open AccessReview Naturapolyceutics: The Science of Utilizing Natural Polymers for Drug Delivery
Polymers 2014, 6(5), 1312-1332; doi:10.3390/polym6051312
Received: 31 January 2014 / Revised: 13 March 2014 / Accepted: 8 April 2014 / Published: 5 May 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1028 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Naturapolyceutics defines the emerging science and technology platform that blends natural polymers and pharmaceutics for the design and development of drug delivery systems. Natural polymers due to their biological properties, sustainability, chemical flexibility, human and eco-friendliness are promising in this field. As drug
[...] Read more.
Naturapolyceutics defines the emerging science and technology platform that blends natural polymers and pharmaceutics for the design and development of drug delivery systems. Natural polymers due to their biological properties, sustainability, chemical flexibility, human and eco-friendliness are promising in this field. As drug delivery advances, there will be need for more polymers. Given that polymers utilized in pharmaceuticals require regulatory approval, robust processes are undertaken to facilitate the production of pharmaceutical grade natural polymers. This review provides insight into the processes—extraction, purification, modifications and characterizations—involved in the eventual utilization of natural polymers for drug delivery. The versatility of natural polymers and particularly modified natural polymers in targeted drug delivery, micro-/nano-drug delivery, theranostics, BioMEMs and generally in research and development of highly efficient, safe and quality products is demonstrated. Natural polymers are polymers of today and tomorrow. Therefore, the shift to undertake training, extensive research and subsequent commercialization of more natural polymers—novel and underutilized—for drug delivery is now! Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers 2014)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Type of Paper: Review
Title:
Ultrapure Low Molecular Weight Chitosan (ULMWC)-based Polyplexes for Delivery of pDNA: From the Row Matter to the Clinic
Author:
Jon Zarate Sesma
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of the Basque Country, Paseo de la Universidad 7, 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; E-Mail: jon.zarate@ehu.es
Abstract:
The interest of chitosan for pDNA delivery applications lies with the ability to form positively charged nano-sized complexes (polyplexes) when positively charged amine groups bind with negatively charged pDNA. Although commercially available bulk chitosans were typically high molecular weight (Mn) and witha low degree ofdeacetylation(DDA), latter studies suggest low Mn (<150 kDa) and high DDA (>80%) chitosans (ULMWC) to increase transfection efficiency. The purpose of this review is to display an integrated review of all major areas of ultrapure low molecular weight chitosan (ULMWC)-based transfection, including production, ULMWC and polyplexes physicochemical characterisation, in vitro and in vivo assessment. In each, we present the impediments to efficient transfection and the strategies adopted over time to overcome these obstacules.

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