Controlled polymerization of amino acid derivatives

Van Kralingen, Leon (2008-03)

Thesis (PhD (Chemistry and Polymer Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


This dissertation can be broken into two parts comprising different strategies to synthesise novel poly-amino acid based polymers. The use of recently developed nickel(0) and cobalt(0) metal catalysts for the living polymerization of α-amino acid-N-carboxyanhydrides (NCAs) to synthesise novel poly-amino acid polymers, comprising a polar, hydrophilic block and a neutral hydrophobic block, were investigated in the first part of this study. The hydrophilic block was made up of a random sequence of arginine (Arg, R), glycine (Gly, G) and aspartic acid (Asp, D) - poly-RGD. This was followed by a polyleucine (Leu, L) hydrophobic block. Success was limited with this system due to polymer precipitation during the polymerization reaction. Because of this precipitation, the amino acid composition of the hydrophilic block was changed to a random sequence of glutamic acid (Glu, E), cystein (Cys, C) and aspartic acid – poly-ECD. Here also, the success was limited because of polymer precipitation. A novel approach to the synthesis of hybrid poly-amino acid – synthetic polymer materials constitutes the second part of this study. The final polymeric structure can be described as a carboxylic acid functionalized polyethylene glycol (PEG) sheathed polylysine polymer. The technology involves the synthesis of a lysine NCA functionalized at the ε-amino group with an α,ω-bis(carboxymethyl) ether PEG. The distal carboxylic acid group was protected as a benzyl ester during synthesis and subsequent polymerization of the PEG-lysine-NCA macro-monomer. The polymerization was successfully initiated using n-butyl amine to form short homopolymer strands. Copolymerization with lysine-NCA was also achieved as well as the successful initiation using a generation 1.0 dendritic amine initiator, N,N,N’,N’-tetrakis(3-aminopropyl)-1,4-butanediamine (DAB-Am-4). These polymers were characterized by 1H NMR.

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