A Tutorial on the Polymers Libraries Available in the Kohn Lab
Author: Jarrod Cohen
Originating in 1986, the Kohn Lab has been advancing the biomedical field with tyrosine-derived polymers. With broad backgrounds including chemistry, biology, material science, and prototype development, the lab has been able to efficiently come up with innovative materials and many commercial products. Our first generation polycarbonates paved the way for many new and exciting applications. The poly(DTR carbonate) class showed properties ranging from promotion of cell growth and attachment to slow degradation. Out of this class came applications including biodegradable bone screws, pins, and plates. To help tailor the degradation profiles of these materials, a new E series library was developed that encompassed both an internal plasticizer (PEG) and monomer to help with water uptake (DT). We were able to synthesize polymers that degraded anywhere from 3 years to 2 hours using this mechanism while also adjusting the mechanical properties as well. This led the way for new applications including fibermats for wound healing, neural conduits, bone regeneration scaffolds, and drug delivery devices. In addition to the success of polycarbonates within the Kohn lab, there was also devices generated from polyarylates. These materials were first investigated using a combinatorial approach, finding trends in properties that included glass-transition temperatures and air-contact water angles. Our ability to model these polymers led to efficient product development with defined properties. Some of the polyarylates investigated through the lab have led to drug delivery nanospheres as well as orthopedic regeneration scaffolds. These projects have not only provided strong applications in the biomedical field but also have promise to be a stepping stone for new materials. As the field adapts to the needs of society, we work fast to provide materials that can help for a better today and tomorrow.