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Novel methodology for nanomaterial synthesis

The exploitation of nanomaterials in biomedical research is rapidly expanding. This however necessitates the tailored and controlled synthesis of specific nanostructures.
Novel methodology for nanomaterial synthesis
Recent advances in the self-assembly of block copolymers have enabled the precise fabrication of well-defined nanostructures such as monodisperse cylinders with precisely controlled length. However, unlike spherical micelles, the control of their dimensions in biologically relevant solvents has posed a significant challenge.

The EU-funded ANIM (Precisely defined, surface-engineered nanostructures via crystallization-driven self-assembly of linear-dendritic block copolymers) project set out to generate precisely surface-engineered materials for biomedical applications. Towards this goal, they initially tested the synthesis and self-assembly of architecturally different linear-dendritic block copolymers. However, problems with steric effects of the dendritic blocks urged them to switch towards a method that could produce amphiphilic linear-brush block copolymers.

The self-assembly of the newly-synthesised polymer was investigated under various conditions. Crystallisation-driven self-assembly approach led to the production of cylindrical micelles of controlled dimensions. This was achieved using dimethyl formamide followed by dialysis against water. Interestingly, these positively-charged comicelles could bind DNA, demonstrating their potential application as gene vectors. Preliminary results showed that they could be efficiently taken up by HeLa cancer cells.

Overall, the ANIM method generated nanostructures of high precision with great potential for functionalisation. This approach was extended to polylactide-based block copolymers, which are more biologically-relevant drug delivery systems.

Related information


Life Sciences


Nanomaterial, micelle, ANIM, linear-brush block copolymer, DNA
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