"These materials show special promise because their membranes are the thickness of natural bilayer membranes, but they have superior and tunable materials properties," said Hammer, the Alfred G. and Meta A. Ennis Professor of Bioengineering at Penn. "Because of their membrane thickness, it will be more straightforward to incorporate biological components into the vesicle membranes, such as receptors and channels."
"No other single class of molecules including block copolymers and lipids is known to assemble in water into such a diversity of supramolecular structures," said Bates, the Regents Professor and Head of the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Department at the University of Minnesota.
Self-assembled nanostructures, obtained from natural and synthetic amphiphiles, increasingly serve as mimics of biological membranes and enable the targeted delivery of drugs, nucleic acids, proteins, gene therapy and imaging agents for diagnostic medicine. The challenge for researchers is creating these precise molecular arrangements that combine to function as safe biological carriers while carrying payload within.
Janus dendrimer assemblies offer several advantages to other competing technologies for nano-particle delivery. Liposomes are mimics of cell membranes assembled from natural phospholipids or from synthetic amphiphiles, including polymersomes. But, liposomes are not stable, even at room temperature, and vary widely in size, requiring tedious stabilization and fractionation for all practical applications. Polymersomes, on the other hand, are stable but polydisperse, and most of them are not
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University of Pennsylvania