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Nanoimprinting technologies for selective recognition and separation

Final Report Summary - NANOIMPRINT (Nanoimprinting technologies for selective recognition and separation)

The main objectives of the NANOIMPRINT project were the following:
- novel synthesis routes for the economically feasible production of Molecular imprinting of polymers (MIPs). More specifically, several synthetic routes would be explored for the production of MIPs in the form of nano and micro-particles and membranes, taking into account limitations of the current synthetic approaches and the rational design of improved imprinting materials;
- development of MIPs for the recognition and separation of biological molecules, utilising reagents and polymerisation techniques for peptides, proteins, enzymes and oligosaccharides. Furthermore, comparison of the different MIP formats for separation techniques would be performed;
- development of novel technology for the preparation of artificial receptors with high substrate selectivity and specificity in analytical techniques (immunoassays, chromatography, capillary electrophoresis and solid phase extraction);
- evaluation of the synthesised formulations, based on the use of MIPs on the separation of proteins, peptides, oligosaccharides. Furthermore, feasibility of imprinting of the oligosaccharides at the nanoscale would be studied.

The work focused on the synthesis of molecularly imprinted nano and micro-particles via precipitation, suspension and inverse suspension polymerisation. The target was to study the effect of important process parameters on the physical properties of the synthesised particles in order to synthesise optimised molecularly imprinted polymeric micro and nano-particles using as template molecules both hydrophobic peptides and hydrophilic peptides. Furthermore, a new synthetic method was developed to prepare molecularly imprinted nanoparticles with more homogeneous binding sites on surface. Instead of the traditional functional monomers, a polymerisable functional surfactant was used to provide the critical interaction with a model template during the imprinting reaction.

Molecular imprinting of mannose and mannan oligosaccharide elicitors was attempted by using both precipitation polymerisation and inverse mini emulsion. Moreover, cholecystokinin C-terminal pentapeptide (CCK-5), L-methionine, L-lysine and histamine were selected as template molecules. MIPs towards CCK-5 were produced with alterations in the molar ratio of template:monomer:cross-linker and their percentage of net rebinding and the imprinting factor was used for the evaluation of imprinting efficacy. MIPs were prepared via inverse miniemulsion polymerisation using as template molecules the peptides AIS and AISYGN. Finally, the project focused on the encapsulation of molecular imprinted materials in hydrogels of different shapes, the production of rigid oxide beads and the development of MIP coatings on beads. For encapsulation several techniques were established.