Open-air synthesis of oligo(ethylene glycol)-functionalized polypeptides from non-purified N -carboxyanhydrides

Zhengzhong Tan, Ziyuan Song, Tianrui Xue, Lining Zheng, Lei Jiang, Yunjiang Jiang, Zihuan Fu, Anh Nguyen, Cecilia Leal, Jianjun Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With PEG-like properties, such as hydrophilicity and stealth effect against protein absorption, oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG)-functionalized polypeptides have emerged as a new class of biomaterials alternative to PEG with polypeptide-like properties. Synthesis of this class of materials, however, has been demonstrated very challenging, as the synthesis and purification of OEG-functionalized N-carboxyanhydrides (OEG-NCAs) in high purity, which is critical for the success in polymerization, is tedious and often results in low yield. OEG-functionalized polypeptides are therefore only accessible to a few limited labs with expertise in this specialized NCA chemistry and materials. Here, we report the controlled synthesis of OEG-functionalized polypeptides in high yield directly from the OEG-functionalized amino acids via easy and reproducible polymerization of non-purified OEG-NCAs. The prepared amphiphilic block copolypeptides can self-assemble into narrowly dispersed nanoparticles in water, which show properties suitable for drug delivery applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4120-4126
Number of pages7
JournalBiomaterials Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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