Health Care

Here they have made many major contributions to the contemporary scene. Health-care professionals depend on plastics for everything from intravenous bags to wheelchairs, disposable labware to silicone body parts, and so on. The diversity of plastics allows them to serve in many ways, improving and prolonging lives [such as a braided, corrugated (Du Pont's Dacron polyester) TP aorta tube].

Thousands of biodegradable plastics have been analyzed. An example is at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) test program that may save lives in the form of a medical implant. Tests include its effectiveness as a drug-releasing implant in brain cancer patients. These implants, roughly the size of a quarter, are being placed in patients' brains to release the chemotherapy drug BCNU (Carmustine). Todate these biocompatible implants have been found to be safer than injections, which can cause the BCNU to enter the bone marrow or lungs, where the drug is toxic.

Use is being made of the polyanhydride plastic that was designed shapevvise so that water would trigger its degradation but would not allow a drug to be released all at once. The implant degrades from die outside, like a bar of soap, releasing the drug at a controlled rate even as it becomes smaller. The rate at which the drug is released is determined by the surface shaped area of the implant and the rate of plastic degradation that is customized to release drugs at rates varying from one day to many years. This design approach also holds promise for use with different drugs for various other-medical systems. Interesting that in the past these plastics were used with explosives for use in a war. When the plastic degraded by water or sunlight, the device would explode.

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