Aqueous Self-Assembly of Purely Hydrophilic Block Copolymers into Giant Vesicles

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015 Aug 10;54(33):9715-8. doi: 10.1002/anie.201502100. Epub 2015 Jul 3.


Self-assembly of macromolecules is fundamental to life itself, and historically, these systems have been primitively mimicked by the development of amphiphilic systems, driven by the hydrophobic effect. Herein, we demonstrate that self-assembly of purely hydrophilic systems can be readily achieved with similar ease and success. We have synthesized double hydrophilic block copolymers from polysaccharides and poly(ethylene oxide) or poly(sarcosine) to yield high molar mass diblock copolymers through oxime chemistry. These hydrophilic materials can easily assemble into nanosized (<500 nm) and microsized (>5 μm) polymeric vesicles depending on concentration and diblock composition. Because of the solely hydrophilic nature of these materials, we expect them to be extraordinarily water permeable systems that would be well suited for use as cellular mimics.

Keywords: block copolymers; polymersomes; polysaccharides; self-assembly; vesicles.