Scalable high-affinity stabilization of magnetic iron oxide nanostructures by a biocompatible antifouling homopolymer

Giovanni Luongo, Paola Campagnolo, Jose E. Perez, Jürgen Kosel, Theoni K. Georgiou, Anna Regoutz, David J. Payne, Molly M. Stevens, Mary P. Ryan, Alexandra E Porter, Iain E Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Iron oxide nanostructures have been widely developed for biomedical applications, due to their magnetic properties and biocompatibility. In clinical application, the stabilization of these nanostructures against aggregation and non-specific interactions is typically achieved using weakly anchored polysaccharides, with better-defined and more strongly anchored synthetic polymers not commercially adopted due to complexity of synthesis and use. Here, we show for the first time stabilization and biocompatibilization of iron oxide nanoparticles by a synthetic homopolymer with strong surface anchoring and a history of clinical use in other applications, poly(2-methacryloyloxyethy phosphorylcholine) (poly(MPC)). For the commercially important case of spherical particles, binding of poly(MPC) to iron oxide surfaces and highly effective individualization of magnetite nanoparticles (20 nm) are demonstrated. Next-generation high-aspect ratio nanowires (both magnetite/maghemite and core-shell iron/iron oxide) are furthermore stabilized by poly(MPC)-coating, with nanowire cytotoxicity at large concentrations significantly reduced. The synthesis approach is exploited to incorporate functionality into the poly(MPC) chain is demonstrated by random copolymerization with an alkyne-containing monomer for click-chemistry. Taking these results together, poly(MPC) homopolymers and random copolymers offer a significant improvement over current iron oxide nanoformulations, combining straightforward synthesis, strong surface-anchoring and well-defined molecular weight.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40059-40069
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 7 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We acknowledge funding from a KAUST Partnership grant (JK, MMS, IED, AEP, GL, PC, JEP).


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