Cucurbit[n]uril-based amphiphiles that self-assemble into functional nanomaterials for therapeutics
Some host–guest complexes of cucurbit[n]uril (CB[n]) host molecules act as supramolecular amphiphiles (SAs), which hierarchically self-assemble into various nanomaterials such as vesicles, micelles, nanorods, and nanosheets in water. The structures and functions of the nanomaterials can be controlled by supramolecular engineering of the host–guest complexes. In addition, functionalization at the periphery of CB and CB generates CB[n]-based molecular amphiphiles (MAs) that can also self-assemble into vesicles or micelle-like nanoparticles in water. Taking advantage of the molecular cavities of CBs and their strong guest recognition properties, the surface of the self-assembled nanomaterials can be easily decorated with various functional tags in a non-covalent manner. In this feature article, the two types (SAs and MAs) of CB-based amphiphiles, their self-assemblies and their applications for nanotherapeutics and theranostics are presented with future perspectives.