Polymersomes, hollow polymer vesicles made from assembled amphiphilic block copolymers, are interesting systems for drug delivery as they can be synthesised to be biocompatible, biodegradable, and/or stimuli-responsive. A main limitation of all drug delivery vehicles is that they require multiple steps of synthesis and a posterior self-assembly process that generates low yields and high quantities of non-encapsulated waste, limiting industrial scalability. Being hosted in the Stevens Group (www.stevensgroup.org, recognised with over 30 major awards), AutoPolymer aims at generating a versatile platform for the generation of polymersome-based drug delivery vehicles which can self-replicate by synthesising amphiphilic block copolymers in the lumen, with the future perspective of co synthesising encapsulated therapeutic agents. The strategy builds on finding bioinspiration in nature, mimicking the autosynthesis of structural components of cells through the mitosis process. This will be achieved by generating enzyme-containing polymersomes which have the capacity to biocatalyse polymerisation reactions. The polymers will be synthesised in the lumen of the polymersomes and will then migrate and assemble to the existing membrane. This will allow for membrane surface area growth and posterior binary fission splitting the encapsulated contents. The incorporation of light responsive chemical motifs to the polymersomes throughout their autosynthesis will be studied to render light-responsive drug delivery vehicles. The polymersomes will be tested for their therapeutic effects on cell lines. The approach is highly versatile and could, in principle, be used for a great variety of chemical compositions and encapsulated therapeutic agents. The potential of the project will be evaluated through the outstanding infrastructure of the Stevens Group.
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