Poly(ortho esters)--from concept to reality

Biomacromolecules. 2004 Sep-Oct;5(5):1625-32. doi: 10.1021/bm040049n.


The development of poly(ortho esters) dates back to the early 1970s, and during that time, four distinct families were developed. These polymers can be prepared by a transesterification reaction or by the addition of polyols to diketene acetals, and it is the latter method that has proven to be preferred one. The latest polymer, now under intense development, incorporates a latent acid segment in the polymer backbone that takes advantage of the acid-labile nature of the ortho ester linkages and allows control over erosion rates. By use of diols having selected chain flexibility, polymers that range from hard, brittle materials to materials that have a gel-like consistency at room temperature can be obtained. Drug release from solid materials will be illustrated with 5-fluorouacil and bovine serum albumin, and drug release from gel-like materials will be illustrated with mepivacaine, now in Phase II clinical trials as a delivery system to treat post-operative pain. A brief summary of preclinical toxicology studies is also presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Polymers / administration & dosage*
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis*


  • Polymers
  • poly(ortho ester)