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Biomacromolecules. 2007 Sep;8(9):2809-14. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Molecular engineering as an approach to design new functional properties of alginate.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.


Through enzymatic modification, we are now able to manipulate the composition and sequential nanostructures of alginate, one of the most versatile gelling polymers found in nature. Here we report the application of a set of processive polymer-modifying epimerases for the preparation of novel alginates with highly improved functional properties essential for numerous applications as gel matrices. Gels of enzymatically engineered alginate were found to be more elastic and compact, less permeable, and extremely stable under physiological conditions, offering significant advantages over native alginates. As a result, this study shows that, by controlling alginate nanostructure, its macroscopic properties can be highly controlled. The ability to tailor alginate has a great impact on the wide use of this biomaterial in industry and medicine. More importantly, this adds more knowledge to the link between polymer nanostructure and macroscopic properties and may serve as a model system for other polymer-based materials.

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