Paper of the week: Voltage-responsive micelles

Stimuli-responsive systems composed of intelligent polymers can undergo physical or chemical changes, such as gel–sol transitions or a change in size or volume, as a response to external stimuli, such as light, pH, temperature, redox reactions and so on. They have attracted much attention for their wide application in the field of medical materials and nano machines. Among the possible stimuli, electrical stimuli are considered to be significantly attractive. The electron transfer reaction is one of the simplest types of chemical reactions, and is reasonably well understood from a theoretical standpoint. When conducting electrical stimuli, a certain magnitude of voltage or current is applied to induce a redox reaction of the host or guest molecules.

Graphical abstract: Voltage-responsive micelles based on the assembly of two biocompatible homopolymers

In this paper, Yuan and co-workers  reported on voltage-responsive micelles based on the assembly of two biocompatible homopolymers, namely; poly(ethylene glycol) homopolymer modified with β-cyclodextrin (PEG–β-CD) and poly(L-lactide) homopolymer modified with ferrocene (PLLA–Fc). Through host–guest interactions between β-CD and Fc, the two homopolymers connect together, forming a non-covalent supramolecular block copolymer PLLA–Fc/PEG–β-CD. PLLA–Fc/PEG–β-CD can further self-assemble to form stable micelles in aqueous solution. Through electrochemical control, a reversible assembly–disassembly transition of this micellar system was realized and voltage-controlled drug release based on this system was also conducted successfully using paclitaxel as the anticancer agent.

Voltage-responsive micelles based on the assembly of two biocompatible homopolymers by Liao Peng, Anchao Feng, Huijuan Zhang, Hong Wang, Chunmei Jian, Bowen Liu, Weiping Gao and Jinying Yuan Polym. Chem. 2014, 5, 1751-1759.

Julien Nicolas is a web-writer and advisory board member for Polymer Chemistry. He currently works at Univ. Paris-Sud (FR) as a CNRS researcher.

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