Plug and play nanoparticles: functionalization of octa-alkyne silsesquioxane nanocages

Bowen, James; Mehrban, Nazia; El Aziz, Youssef; Birchall, Martin and Taylor, Peter (2021). Plug and play nanoparticles: functionalization of octa-alkyne silsesquioxane nanocages. In: THERMEC 2021, 1-5 Jun 2021, Online.



It is anticipated that in the next 30 years up to one third of all medical treatments will rely on regenerative technologies. Current estimates reveal that approximately 50% of all regenerative therapies rely on some form of biomaterial for delivery or support. Here we report an efficient method for the high yield synthesis of biofunctionalised nanoparticles which offer the potential to form tunable biomaterials towards regenerative medicine.

POSS stands for polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane, a symmetrical, three-dimensional cubic molecule, which is a unique nanometer-sized hybrid inorganic–organic material with the formula (RSiO3/2)8, also known as T8. These cubic, cage-like molecules contain an inorganic siloxane nanocore, which offers great potential for chemical functionalisation. POSS units have been used extensively as scaffolds for the development of liquid crystals, biocompatible materials, catalysts, and dendrimers. Our work has exploited this chemical flexibility to form a novel octa-alkyne POSS precursor, suitable for clinically-relevant biomaterial design; this was demonstrated by the synthesis of hybrid biofunctional nanoparticles.

We are currently preparing a portfolio of adaptable precursor molecules to form the basis of novel, highly-controllable materials. Examples include heterofunctional POSS nanoparticles which present oligo/polysaccharides and/or peptide aptamers. The adaptable core design of the POSS molecule, terminating in ‘clickable’ alkyne arms, presents opportunities in multiple application areas including as multifunctional, tissue-specific nanoparticles suitable for regenerative medicine. The high degree of control and bottom-up approach has implications for therapies tailored to individual patients.

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