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PCL and PCL-based materials in biomedical applications

Biodegradable polymers have met with an increasing demand in medical usage over the last decades. One of such polymers is poly(epsilon-caprolactone) (PCL), which is a polyester that has been widely used in tissue engineering field for its availability, relatively inexpensive price and suitability for modification. Its chemical and biological properties, physicochemical state, degradability and mechanical strength can be adjusted, and therefore, it can be used under harsh mechanical, physical and chemical conditions without significant loss of its properties. Degradation time of PCL is quite long, thus it is used mainly in the replacement of hard tissues in the body where healing also takes an extended period of time. It is also used at load-bearing tissues of the body by enhancing its stiffness. However, due to its tailorability, use of PCL is not restricted to one type of tissue and it can be extended to engineering of soft tissues by decreasing its molecular weight and degradation time. This review outlines the basic properties of PCL, its composites, blends and copolymers. We report on various techniques for the production of different forms, and provide examples of medical applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery systems covering the studies performed in the last decades.