In the News

Medical Applications of Poly-4-Hydroxybutyrate: a strong flexible absorbable biomaterial.

Simon F. Williams, PhD and David P. Martin, PhD

Biochemical Engineering Journal 16 (2):97-105.2003

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Poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB) is being developed as a new absorbable material for implantable medical applications. P4HB promises to open up new opportunities for the development of medical applications by offering a new set of properties that are not currently available. The absorbable biomaterial is strong yet flexible, and degrades in vivo at least in part by a surface erosion process. While the chemical structure of P4HB is similar to that of current absorbable polyesters used in implantable medical products, P4HB is produced by a fermentation process rather than through a chemical synthesis. P4HB is a thermoplastic material that can be processed using standard plastics processing techniques, such as solution casting or melt extrusion.
The strength of P4HB fibers prepared by melt extrusion compare well with that of traditional suturing materials, however, P4HB is typically more flexible. P4HB should find use in a wide variety of medical fields such as cardiovascular, wound healing, orthopedic, drug delivery, and tissue engineering applications. This paper describes some of the basic properties of P4HB and several of its potential applications in medicine.


Dr. Simon Williams is a Consultant to Tepha, Inc. and a member of the Tepha Board of Directors. Dr. David Martin is the Chief Scientific Officer of Tepha, Inc.