This is a guest blogpost by Youssef Mansour.
Scientists have devised a new method to create biocompatible, artificial molecular recognition systems with potential use in drug delivery, sensing and bioseparation –– they say it’s the “greenest” strategy described to date.
Over billions of years, biological systems have developed sophisticated strategies governing how a molecule recognizes another to elicit a target function, such as the recognition of an antigen by an antibody to deliver an immune response. Synthetic chemists, however, are faced with the challenge of designing similar systems in the span of a career. But the perk? These mimics, if achieved, can provide a cheap alternative for industrial and biomedical applications.
But building an analogue system that is compatible for use in a living system and sustainably produced proved tougher than previously thought.
That is until a team led by Karsten Haupt of Compiègne University of Technology and colleagues from the Lebanese University came up with a new strategy to synthesize artificial macromolecular polymers in a biocompatible and sustainable manner. Macromolecules are very large molecules, such as protein or lipids, and are typically constructed using smaller units.
The team used a generic approach of producing polymeric analogues called molecularly imprinted polymers (MIP) – bringing artificial molecular recognition systems a step closer to finding practical use in biomedical applications.