Conventional technologies for ureteral stent fabrication suffer from major inconveniences such as the development of encrustations and bacteria biofilm formation. These drawbacks typically lead to the failure of the device, significant patient discomfort and an additional surgery to remove and replace the stent in the worst cases. This work focuses on the preparation of a new nanocomposite material able to show drug elution properties, biodegradation and eventually potential antibacterial activity. Poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) or the crosslinked poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate)-co-poly(acrylic acid) hydrogels were prepared by the radical polymerization method and combined with a biodegradable and antibacterial filling agent, i.e., flower-like Zinc Oxide (ZnO) micropowders obtained via the hydrothermal route. The physico-chemical analyses revealed the correct incorporation of ZnO within the hydrogel matrix and its highly mesoporous structure and surface area, ideal for drug incorporation. Two different anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen and Diclofenac) were loaded within each composite and the release profile was monitored up to two weeks in artificial urine (AU) and even at different pH values in AU to simulate pathological conditions. The addition of mesoporous ZnO micropowders to the hydrogel did not negatively affect the drug loading properties of the hydrogel and it was successfully allowed to mitigate undesirable burst-release effects. Furthermore, the sustained release of the drugs over time was observed at neutral pH, with kinetic constants (k) as low as 0.05 h−1
. By exploiting the pH-tunable swelling properties of the hydrogel, an even more sustained release was achieved in acidic and alkaline conditions especially at short release times, with a further reduction of burst effects (k ≈ 0.01–0.02 h−1
). The nanocomposite system herein proposed represents a new material formulation for preparing innovative drug eluting stents with intrinsic antibacterial properties.
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