CAS number: 25322-68-3
Molar mass: 44n+62
Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), also known as poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), polyoxyethylene (POE) and under the tradename Carbowax is the most commercially important type of polyether. PEG, PEO or POE refers to an oligomer or polymer of ethylene oxide. The three names are chemically synonymous, but historically PEG has tended to refer to oligomers and polymers with a molecular mass below 20,000 g/mol, PEO to polymers with a molecular mass above 20,000 g/mol, and POE to a polymer of any molecular mass. PEG and PEO are liquids or low-melting solids, depending on their molecular weights. PEGs are prepared by polymerization of ethylene oxide and are commercially available over a wide range of molecular weights from 300 g/mol to 10,000,000 g/mol. While PEG and PEO with different molecular weights find use in different applications and have different physical properties (e.g. viscosity) due to chain length effects, their chemical properties are nearly identical. Different forms of PEG are also available dependent on the initiator used for the polymerization process. The most common of which is a monofunctional methyl ether PEG (methoxypoly(ethylene glycol)), abbreviated mPEG. Lower molecular weight PEGs are also available as pure oligomers, referred to as mondisperse, uniform or discrete. Since purification and separation of pure oligomers is difficult, the price for this type of quality is often 10-1000 fold that of polydisperse PEG. PEGs are also available with different geometries. Branched PEGs have 3 to 10 PEG chains emanating from a central core group. Star PEGs have 10 - 100 PEG chains emanating from a central core group. Comb PEGs have multiple PEG chains normally grafted to a polymer backbone.
Polyethylene glycol has a low toxicityand is used in a variety of products. It is the basis of a number of laxatives (e.g. macrogol-containing products such as Movicol and polyethylene glycol 3350, or SoftLax, MiraLax or GlycoLax). It is the basis of many skin creams, as cetomacrogol, and sexual lubricants, frequently combined with glycerin. Whole bowel irrigation (polyethylene glycol with added electrolytes) is used for bowel preparation before surgery or colonoscopy and drug overdoses. It is sold under the brand names GoLYTELY, NuLytely, GlycoLax, Fortrans, TriLyte, Colyte, Halflytely, MiraLAX, Softlax and MoviPrep. When attached to various protein medications, polyethylene glycol allows a slowed clearance of the carried protein from the blood. This makes for a longer acting medicinal effect and reduces toxicity, and it allows longer dosing intervals. Examples include PEG-interferon alpha, which is used to treat hepatitis C, and PEG-filgrastim (Neulasta), which is used to treat neutropenia. It has been shown that polyethylene glycol can improve healing of spinal injuries in dogs. One of the earlier findings that polyethylene glycol can aid in nerve repair came from the University of Texas (Krause and Bittner).Polyethylene glycol is commonly used to fuse B-cells with myeloma cells in monoclonal antibody production. PEG has recently been proved to give better results in constipation patients than tegaserod.
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