Recombinant protein-based polymers for advanced drug delivery
Advances in recombinant techniques have led to the development of genetically engineered polymers with exquisite control over monomer sequence and polymer length. The ability to study how precise structures correlate with function has provided opportunities for the utility of these polymers in drug delivery. Chemically derived and developed methods of synthesis have yielded many useful polymers for drug delivery to-date, including those currently used in patients. However they have drawbacks, including limitations involved in statistical characterization of conventional polymer synthetic techniques. Encoding at the genetic level and production of such recombinant polymers in organisms allow for precise order and accuracy of amino acid residues and production of monodisperse polymers with specific function and physicochemical properties. Research into elastin-like, silk-like, and silk–elastinlike protein polymers for example has led to the development of delivery systems based on natural motifs of structural proteins to take advantage of their physicochemical properties. Additionally, protein based polymers on other natural motifs and de novo designs are starting to produce promising constructs for drug and gene delivery applications where precise control over structure promises correlation with function and guides the development of new and improved constructs. Clinical applications based on recombinant polymers for delivery of bioactive agents have not been realized at this point. However lessons learned from fundamental research with these polymers can be used to guide design of safe and effective systems for use in the clinic. This tutorial review summarizes progress made in the design and utility of recombinant polymers in drug and gene delivery and discusses challenges and future directions of such polymers for this purpose.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Nanomedicine