Natural polymers are continuously investigated for use in pharmaceutical and tissue engineering applications
due to the renewability of their supply. Besides the conventional use of natural materials in dosage form design such as
fillers, they are progressively investigated as functional excipients in specialised dosage forms. The hydrophilic nature of
natural polymers together with their non-toxic and biodegradable properties make them useful in the design of modified
release dosage forms. Matrix type tablets and beads made from natural gums and mucilages often exhibit sustained drug
release through erosion in combination with swelling. Natural polymers are used to reach different pharmaceutical objectives,
for instance, inulin and pectin are plant derived polymers that have suitable properties to produce colon-specific
drug delivery. Alginate is an example of a natural polymer that has been used in the formulation of gastro-retentive dosage
forms. Different cellulose derived polymers have been investigated as coating materials for dosage forms. Natural polymers
can be chemically modified to produce molecules with specific properties and formation of co-polymers or polymer
mixtures provide new opportunities to develop innovative drug delivery systems.
Keywords: Algae, alginate, cellulose, drug delivery system, pectin, plant polymers, starch.
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