Background: Advances in synthetic polymer chemistry have allowed plastics to be produced more easily and cheaply than most naturally occurring materials. Over the last half century annual production of plastics has outpaced production of lumber steel and aluminum in the U.S. Polymers created by a method called ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) are utilized across many disciplines and are popular because they can be tailored or functionalized for specific needs. Unfortunately it has been difficult to produce ROMP polymers that also biodegrade. Reconciling these properties – customizability and degradability – could lead to polymers that won’t accumulate in landfills and also cause fewer side effects in vivo. For example the scaffolds needed in tissue targeted therapy (TTT) have not made use of polymers because they don’t degrade and can be toxic to cells over time. Technology Description: UW–Madison researchers have developed functionalized and degradable ROMP polymers. Specifically monomers having a bicyclic oxazinone core structure have been found to be substrates for the ROMP process using a ruthenium or osmium carbene catalyst. This core may be chemically modified at a site away from the polymerizable moieties and bridgehead carbons. Polymers prepared from these monomers are both acid and base degradable. Applications: 1) Biomedicine and drug delivery 2) Commercial plastics
1) Polymers are both functionalizable and degradable. 2) Retains the benefits of ROMP like easy functionalization. 3) Properties can be tailored without destabilizing the monomer.