Designing Next Generation Polymer Therapeutics Inspired by Nature

Date(s) - 02/17/2017
11:00 am

Tanja Weil, Ph.D., Professor, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany

Proteins, Peptides and DNA constitute sequence specific and geometrically defined macro-molecules representing the central framework of important biological processes in Nature. Their precise architectures and consequent biochemical functions are unique and unrivalled in the synthetic world, providing an impetus for their incorporation into contemporary hybrid materials. Site-directed protein and peptide chemistry allows the construction of biohybrid architectures with attractive bioactivities. We have prepared a diverse set of dendritic hybrid macromolecules and peptide nanomaterials that interact with viruses and facilitate enhanced gene delivery even under in vivo conditions. Furthermore, copolymers have been achieved through the synergistic combination of proteins and polymer that selectively target tumor cells and reveal adjustable, stimulus-responsive cytotoxicity.
By implementing design concepts of bacterial toxins – one of Nature’s most efficient transport systems, supramolecular fusion toxins have been prepared revealing enhanced cell-type se-lectivity and anti-tumor activity. In this approach, the natural and synthetic worlds have inter-faced to pave the way to semi-synthetic therapeutics that mimic biomolecular architectures to regulate biological processes in the cellular environment and potentially outperform existing therapeutics. We believe that such strategies hold great promise for the innovation of next generation nanotherapeutics.