Methods and compositions are provided for enhancing the bioadhesive properties of polymers used in drug delivery devices. The bioadhesive properties of a polymer are enhanced by incorporating a metal compound into the polymer to enhance the ability of the polymer to adhere to a tissue surface such as a mucosal membrane. Metal compounds which enhance the bioadhesive properties of a polymer include water-insoluble metal compounds such as water-insoluble metal oxides, including oxides of calcium, iron, copper and zinc. The metal compounds can be incorporated within a wide range of polymers including proteins, polysaccharides and synthetic biocompatible polymers. In one embodiment, metal oxides can be incorporated within polymers used to form or coat drug delivery devices, such as microspheres, which contain a drug or diagnostic agent. The metal oxides can be provided in the form of a fine dispersion of particles on the surface of a polymer that coats or forms the devices, which enhances the ability of the devices to bind to mucosal membranes. The polymers, for example in the form of microspheres, have improved ability to adhere to mucosal membranes, and thus can be used to deliver a drug or diagnostic agent via any of a range of mucosal membrane surfaces including those of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, excretory and reproductive tracts.
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