Protein-, (Poly)peptide-, and Amino Acid-Based Nanostructures Prepared via Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly

Spyridon Varlas*, Georgia Maitland, Matthew Derry*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Proteins and peptides, built from precisely defined amino acid sequences, are an important class of biomolecules that play a vital role in most biological functions. Preparation of nanostructures through functionalization of natural, hydrophilic proteins/peptides with synthetic polymers or upon self-assembly of all-synthetic amphiphilic copolypept(o)ides and amino acid-containing polymers enables access to novel protein-mimicking biomaterials with superior physicochemical properties and immense biorelevant scope. In recent years, polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) has been established as an efficient and versatile alternative method to existing self-assembly procedures for the reproducible development of block copolymer nano-objects in situ at high concentrations and, thus, provides an ideal platform for engineering protein-inspired nanomaterials. In this review article, the different strategies employed for direct construction of protein-, (poly)peptide-, and amino acid-based nanostructures via PISA are described with particular focus on the characteristics of the developed block copolymer assemblies, as well as their utilization in various pharmaceutical and biomedical applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2603
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://

Funding: M.J.D. wishes to thank the EPSRC for providing a DTP studentship for G.L.M. (EPSRC DTP 2020–2021, Aston University, Grant Ref: EP/T518128/1).


  • Biomaterials
  • Block copolymers
  • Nanostructures
  • Polymerization-induced selfassembly
  • Polypeptides
  • Proteins
  • Protein–polymer conjugates
  • α-amino acids


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