Universiteit Leiden

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Delivery of Biotherapeutics

The Delivery of Biotherapeutics research group is led by Prof. Matthias Barz and focusses on the synthesis and characterization of polypept(o)ids and their application in nanomedicine to improve existing therapies or enable novel diagnostic or therapeutic approaches.

Our research focuses on the development of polypept(o)ids – a novel class of hybrid materials based on polypeptides and polypeptoids, mostly polysarcosine. Polysarcosine has comparable solution properties like PEG, but is based on the endogenous amino acid sarcosine (N-methylglycine). Our work involves the synthesis of reactive amino acids and NCAs (N-carboxy anhydride) thereof followed by controlled living ring-opening polymerization yielding multifunctional polypept(o)ids. Hereby, different polymer architectures are realized ranging from star-like or cylindrical bottlebrush polymers over (multi)block copolypept(o)ids to lipopolymers. 

The new type of polymeric material is used for the formation of functional nanoparticles either by secondary structure-directed- or template-driven self-assembly. Depending on the polymeric structure, a vast variety of different nanoparticle morphologies can be accessed. By applying this synthetic pathway, complex requirements and functionalities can easily be combined with robust and scalable chemistry. 

The aim of our research is the development of therapeutic and diagnostic polypept(o)ide-based nanomedicines. Up to date, we established carrier systems to deliver small molecules, peptides, proteins, and nucleic acids (siRNA, mRNA, and pDNA) to cells of the immune system as well as solid tumors and areas of bacterial infections. Additionally, the field of application for these polymers include formation of hydrogels for tissue engineering, functional coating materials, bio-based non-ionic surfactants, lipopolymers and emulsifiers. 

All our research topics are in close collaboration with various groups all around the world. Our research network spans the globe, from the USA to Japan with a focus on central Europe.

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