In this project funded by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Chemistry Division, Andrea Kasko of the University of California at Los Angeles and Coleen Pugh of the University of Akron will develop synthetic methodologies to prepare biomimetic glycopolymers. A series of sugar-based initiators, monomers, and inimers (initiator/monomer)s will be synthesized using readily available and inexpensive starting materials and procedures. A new class of hyperbranched biomimetic glyco(co)polymers will be synthesized via controlled radical (co)polymerization of the inimers, in which the saccharide residues can be incorporated not only pendant to the polymer backbone, but also within the polymer chain in their native ring form. Controlled polymerizations will allow the production of complex structures, including random and block copolymers with end-functionalization. The branched structure of these materials will be characterized by MS-MS, 2-D NMR spectroscopy, and light scattering analysis, and the biological activity of the polymers will be characterized by evaluating the sequestration of growth factors and determining lectin binding affinity. The broader impacts involve training undergraduate and graduate students, enhancing research and education infrastructure through the collaboration between the two universities, participating in outreach to K-12 students via a Science Olympiad Polymer Detective activity and via an interactive website and blog with a high school chemistry class, and the potential impact of this research on science and technology that utilizes glycopolymers.
This work addresses a longstanding issue in the chemical synthesis of polysaccharides (long chain molecules comprised of sugar units): developing methods to rapidly access large quantities of polysaccharides with control over their compositions and structures. These types of polymers could have multiple applications in biomedicine, and may find use as therapeutic agents, drug carriers, materials for regenerative medicine, or materials for diagnostic devices.