Biological-synthetic hybrid polymers
van Hest, Jan Department of Organic Chemistry, Radboud University Nijmegan, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
- Protein-polymer conjugates
- Polymeric drug delivery systems
- Polymer scaffolds for multiple bioactive moieties
- Structural peptide-polymer hybrids
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
One traditional approach to categorizing polymers is by their origin. Polymers can be roughly divided into synthetic polymers and naturally occurring polymers, such as polysaccharides, polynucleotides (DNA and RNA), and proteins. There are important distinctions between these two classes of macromolecules. Synthetic polymers can be made with a wide variety of monomer building blocks, which can be arranged in a large number of different topologies. Synthetic polymers are very adaptable, and their properties can be fine-tuned for specific applications. However, a synthetic polymer always consists of a mixture of polymer chains with a distribution in chain length. One drawback of synthetic polymers is that there is no absolute control over the molecular weight of the polymer. Even more importantly, there is no control over the specific order of the monomers within the polymer chain. Control of molecular weight and the specific order of the monomers within the polymer chain are prominently present in biomacromolecules such as proteins. Because the sequence of amino acids in a protein is perfectly controlled, information can be stored in the linear polypeptide chain, which leads to a well-defined folding process of the biopolymer and the introduction of structure and functionality in the resulting protein. However, biomacromolecules are limited with respect to the number of monomers that can be incorporated, and they can easily loose function, for example, due to unfolding or degradation.
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