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Protein-Like Polymers

 
  March, 16 2004 9:17
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
Vesicles -- microscopic water-soluble containers -- are a useful means to deliver drugs. In the April issue of Nature Materials, a new type of vesicle made of block copolypeptides (polymers made with the same building units as proteins), combines mechanical stability with the ability to open up in response to a specific stimulus -- pH change.

With these vesicles, researchers in California and Delaware have solved two major problems in one go: toughness and responsiveness. Vesicles made of lipids are cheap and easy to make, but they are too unstable to be used to carry drugs, whereas those made of block copolymers are so robust that they don't easily open to release their cargo. Now, the use of block copolypeptides that mimic proteins allows control of the vesicle structure in a dynamic way, making these vesicles serviceable for both the transport and release of drugs.

Considering the wealth of different functionalities available through polypeptides, the responsiveness of these materials could easily be enriched and begin to approach the capabilities of biological structures.

Author contact:

Timothy J. Deming
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA
USA
Tel: +1 805 893 8474
E-mail: tdeming@mrl.ucsb.edu

Additional contact for comment on paper:

Richard A. L. Jones
University of Sheffield, UK
Tel: +44 114 222 4530
E-mail: r.a.l.jones@sheffield.ac.uk

Also available online.

(C) Nature Materials press release.


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