Nanostructured functional materials are undoubtedly one of the main focal points in academic and industrial research communities. Nature’s own ‘bottom-up’ strategy for the construction of immensely complex and sophisticated nanoscaled systems have served as an inspiration for ground-breaking developments in the field of supramolecular chemistry. I aim to combine self-assembly and self-organization for the fabrication of complex supramolecular systems with specific functionality. I propose to use peptide discotics for the controlled self-assembly of supramolecular functional nanoparticles in water and target molecular imaging studies in order to develop Supramolecular Biomedical Materials.
I will establish a set of semi-empirical rules, a packing parameter, for the design of supramolecular colloidal particles. The strategy of frustrated growth will aim to balance out positive non-covalent interactions with repulsive forces. Thereby the growth, stability and biocompatible surface functionalisation of the architectures can be controlled, aiming at sizes below 20 nm. The resulting supramolecular materials will be applied in molecular imaging, the development of nanoparticulate targeted and multimodal contrast agents.
The elegance and uniqueness of these Supramolecular Biomedical Materials is that following the initial targeting event, the self-assembled scaffolds will disassemble into their small building blocks. This optimises secretion by the renal system and at the same time, the highly ‘effective’ imaging is also retained because of the high local concentration of the imaging agent, thus enhancing overall contrast, sensitivity and resolution of for example cardiovascular disease processes. This will significantly reduce the residence times of the targeted agent, which is one of the major limitations in current biomedical applications using non-reversible nanoparticulate imaging.
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