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Chem Soc Rev. 2013 Sep 7;42(17):7373-90. doi: 10.1039/c3cs60063g. Epub 2013 May 1.

Stimuli responsive synthetic polypeptides derived from N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) polymerisation.

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  • 1School of Chemical Sciences, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland.


The progress in NCA polymerisation combined with advanced orthogonal functionalization techniques as well as the integration with other controlled polymerisation techniques significantly widened the scope of polypeptide building blocks in a variety of material designs. Well-defined synthetic stimuli-responsive polypeptides ("smart" polypeptides) with incorporated different functionalities have been extensively explored over the past decades. Their significant potential lies in the fact that they combine natural and synthetic elements both contributing to their properties. These novel materials have potential applications in biomedicine and biotechnology including tissue engineering, drug delivery and biodiagnostics. Responsive polypeptides are capable of undergoing conformational changes and phase transition accompanied by variations in the chemical and physical changes of the polypeptides in response to an external stimulus such as biologically relevant species (i.e. biomolecules), the environment (i.e. temperature, pH), irradiation with light or exposure to a magnetic field. In this review, the recent developments including synthetic strategies and applications of synthetic stimuli-responsive homo- and block polypeptides are reviewed.

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