Clickable iron oxide NPs based on catechol derived ligands: synthesis and characterization†
Clickable magnetic nanoparticles have attracted great attention as potential nanoplatforms for biomedical applications because of the high functionalization efficiency of their surfaces with biomolecules, which facilitates their bio-compatibilization. However, the design and synthesis of clickable NPs is still challenging because of the complexity of the chemistry on the magnetic NP surface, thus robust methods that improve the ligand synthesis and the transfer of magnetic NPs in physiological media being in high-demand. In this work, we developed a versatile and enhanced synthetic route to fabricate potentially clickable IONPs of interest in nanomedicine. Catechol anchor ligands with different stereo-electronic features were synthetized from a hetero bi-functional PEG spacer backbone. The resulting catechol ligands transferred in good yields and high stability to magnetic NPs by an improved energetic ligand exchange method that combines sonication and high temperature. The azido functionalized IONPs exhibited excellent characteristics as T2 MRI contrast agents with low cytotoxicity, making these clickable magnetic NPs promising precursors for nanomedicines.