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Variants and Uses of Polyethylene glycol

Published Date : November 15, 2018


Polyethylene glycol is a compound with rampant industrial applications and medicinal applications. They are polyether compounds that are also known as polyoxyethylene (POE) or polyethylene oxide (PEO) on the basis of their molecular weight. The consistent demand for plastics has potentially increased the demand for the manufacture of polyethylene glycol compounds. They are also employed in electronics industries for the manufacture for electronic products using plastics.

The impact of variations in molecular weight:

Polyethylene glycol is nothing but the polymer or oligomer of ethylene oxide. Their molecular weights could significantly influence various properties. Not only do they differ in structural properties due to the variations in molecular weight, but they also differ in various physical properties. This implies the liquid state of polyethylene glycol compounds, viscosity, and their low-melting nature. The variation in viscosity is due to the effects of chain length. However, the chemical properties of these compounds are quite similar. Due to the variations in physical properties, they find applications in various sectors. Their applications are chosen in accordance with the physical properties.

Geometrical variations and PEGylation:

Poly ethylene glycol compounds are available in various geometries. This encompasses their arrangement and attachment of chains. There are star poly ethylene glycol compounds, comb poly ethylene glycol compounds and branched poly ethylene glycol compounds. The act of covalently coupling a poly ethylene glycol molecule with another huge molecule is referred to as PEGylation. Therapeutic proteins like PEGylated interferon alfa-2a or -2b fall under the category of PEGylated proteins as they are produced by the process of PEGylation. These therapeutic proteins are employed in the treatment of various conditions. PEGylated interferon alfa-2a or -2b is used as an injectable for the treatment of hepatitis C infection.

Solubility properties; production and the harmful side of PEG compounds:

Polyethylene glycol compounds are soluble in a wide range of compounds and they are insoluble in some compounds as well. They are commonly soluble in benzene, water, ethanol, dichloromethane, acetonitrile, and methanol. They are insoluble in hexane and dimethyl ether. Polyethylene glycol compounds are produced by the reaction of ethylene oxide with ethylene glycol, water and ethylene glycol oligomers. Acidic or basic catalysts are employed to catalyze the reaction. Polyethylene glycols have toxic impurities like 1, 4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. Ethylene glycol and its ethers could turn out to be detrimental if applied to damaged skin as these compounds are nephrotoxic.


PEG compounds are used in multiple biological applications entailing sectors of gene therapy and microbiology. They also have multiple medicinal, chemical, industrial, and commercial applications.