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Abstract

Aliphatic polyesters, such as polylactic acid (PLA), polyglycolic acid (PGA), and their copolymer polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) have become an established choice in the biomedical field in a wide range of applications, from nanoparticles for local drug delivery to bone fixation screws, and, hence, in a huge spectrum of uses in different medical devices currently available on the market worldwide. The reason for their popularity lies in their combination of interesting peculiarities: in situ degradation, intrinsic biocompatibility (degradation products are recognized and metabolized), processability with standard industrial technologies, and tailorable properties. The knowledge of the degradation rate is an essential requirement for optimal device design when, e.g., fast adsorption time is required, or mechanical properties must be assured over a given time span. In this regard, experimental studies can be time- and money-consuming, due to the time scales (weeks–months) involved in the hydrolysis process. This work aims at providing to both industry and academia robust guidelines for optimal material choice through a systematic experimental and computational analysis of most commonly used PLGA formulations (selected from commercially available products), evaluating the degradation kinetics and its impact on polymer properties.

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