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Smart systems related to polypeptide sequences

Laboratory of Synthetic Polymers, Structure and Properties (PSEP), Chemical Engineering Department, Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), Barcelona, Spain

Topical Section: Responsive, Active and Smart materials

Increasing interest for the application of polypeptide-based smart systems in the biomedical field has developed due to the advantages given by the peptidic sequence. This is due to characteristics of these systems, which include: biocompatibility, potential control of degradation, capability to provide a rich repertoire of biologically specific interactions, feasibility to self-assemble, possibility to combine different functionalities, and capability to give an environmentally responsive behavior. Recently, applications concerning the development of these systems are receiving greater attention since a targeted and programmable release of drugs (e.g. anti-cancer agents) can be achieved. Block copolymers are discussed due to their capability to render differently assembled architectures. Hybrid systems based on silica nanoparticles are also discussed. In both cases, the selected systems must be able to undergo fast changes in properties like solubility, shape, and dissociation or swelling capabilities. This review is structured in different chapters which explain the most recent advances on smart systems depending on the stimuli to which they are sensitive. Amphiphilic block copolymers based on polyanionic or polycationic peptides are, for example, typically employed for obtaining pH-responsive systems. Elastin-like polypeptides are usually used as thermoresponsive polymers, but performance can be increased by using techniques which utilize layer-by-layer electrostatic self-assembly. This approach offers a great potential to create multilayered systems, including nanocapsules, with different functionality. Recent strategies developed to get redox-, magnetic-, ultrasound-, enzyme-, light- and electric-responsive systems are extensively discussed. Finally, some indications concerning the possibilities of multi-responsive systems are discussed.
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