Peptides are nature’s expression language and as such perform vital roles in living organisms. They are highly functional and produced naturally with a precision that is unprecedented in synthetic materials such as polymers. Synthetic polypeptides present a promising alternative as they combine the accessibility of synthetic polymers with functionality and biocompatibility of natural peptides. They are thus ideally suited as a new (commercial) renewable and sustainable polymer materials platform if some practical hurdles can be overcome.
In this project, new routes for the synthesis of polypeptides will be explored that are inexpensive, scalable and reproducible and allow the tuning of polypeptide properties by copolymerisation. While the approach to be taken is generic, our efforts will focus on the synthesis of Glatiramer. Glatiramer is a commercial product that is currently synthesised by ring opening polymerisation in an uncontrolled fashion, yielding a random copolymer of four amino acids. By improving our understanding of the reaction kinetics, we are aiming to gain a better control over the polymerisation and prepare well-defined Glatiramer-like polypeptides. Subsequently a combinatorial library will be prepared and the various Glatiramer-like polypeptides will be screened for biologically activity towards multiple sclerosis.
This is a highly interdisciplinary project at the interface of polymer chemistry, combinatorial chemistry and life science. The applicant’s diverse experience makes him an ideal match for this work. The project also brings together academics from world class institutions with complementary expertise that provides a unique environment for the applicant to develop his skills and accelerate his academic career.
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