Designing dendrimers for biological applications

Nat Biotechnol. 2005 Dec;23(12):1517-26. doi: 10.1038/nbt1171.


Dendrimers are branched, synthetic polymers with layered architectures that show promise in several biomedical applications. By regulating dendrimer synthesis, it is possible to precisely manipulate both their molecular weight and chemical composition, thereby allowing predictable tuning of their biocompatibility and pharmacokinetics. Advances in our understanding of the role of molecular weight and architecture on the in vivo behavior of dendrimers, together with recent progress in the design of biodegradable chemistries, has enabled the application of these branched polymers as anti-viral drugs, tissue repair scaffolds, targeted carriers of chemotherapeutics and optical oxygen sensors. Before such products can reach the market, however, the field must not only address the cost of manufacture and quality control of pharmaceutical-grade materials, but also assess the long-term human and environmental health consequences of dendrimer exposure in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Biology / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods*
  • Drug Design*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration / methods*
  • Materials Testing
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Transfection / methods


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polymers