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Self-assembled multivalent (SAMul) ligand systems with enhanced stability in the presence of human serum

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JournalBiomaterials Science
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Jun 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jul 2019
DatePublished (current) - Aug 2019
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)3812-3820
Early online date2/07/19
Original languageEnglish


Self-assembled cationic micelles are an attractive platform for binding biologically-relevant polyanions such as heparin. This has potential applications in coagulation control, where a synthetic heparin rescue agent could be a useful replacement for protamine, which is in current clinical use. However, micelles can have low stability in human serum and unacceptable toxicity profiles. This paper reports the optimisation of self-assembled multivalent (SAMul) arrays of amphiphilic ligands to bind heparin in competitive conditions. Specifically, modification of the hydrophobic unit kinetically stabilises the self-assembled nanostructures, preventing loss of binding ability in the presence of human serum – cholesterol hydrophobic units significantly outperform systems with a simple aliphatic chain. It is demonstrated that serum albumin disrupts the binding thermodynamics of the latter system. Molecular simulation shows aliphatic lipids can more easily be removed from the self-assembled nanostructures than the cholesterol analogues. This agrees with the experimental observation that the cholesterol-based systems undergo slower disassembly and subsequent degradation via ester hydrolysis. Furthermore, by stabilising the SAMul nanostructures, toxicity towards human cells is decreased and biocompatibility enhanced, with markedly improved survival of human hepatoblastoma cells in an MTT assay.

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© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2019. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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