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Effect of drug loading and laser surface melting on drug release profile from biodegradable polymer


Correspondence to: S-T Hsu (E-mail:


The biodegradable polymer such as poly(l-lactic acid) is promising in drug delivery applications because it allows for drug release in a controlled manner. In a polymer-based drug delivery system, drug release is controlled by polymer degradation and drug loading concentration. In this study, effect of drug concentration on drug release profile is investigated through polymer crystallinity, chain mobility, and polymer degradation, as characterized by the wide-angle X-ray diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, and gel permeation chromatography, respectively. The addition of drug has been shown to accelerate polymer degradation and drug release rate. With a low drug concentration, the slow polymer degradation kinetics results in an induction period of drug release, during which a limited amount of drug is released. The induction period is undesirable because it delays drug release and effectiveness. Since drug release is controlled by polymer degradation, which is a function of polymer crystallinity, laser surface melting is conducted to reduce polymer surface crystallinity and modify its degradation. The effect of laser crystallinity modification on drug release is investigated. A numerical model is also implemented based on hydrolysis and diffusion mechanisms to investigate the effects of drug loading and laser surface melting on polymer degradation and drug release process. It has been demonstrated that laser treatment shortens the induction period of drug release while keeps the release rate unmodified, as desired in drug delivery applications. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 130: 4147–4156, 2013