Current Approaches to Designing Nanomaterials Inspired by Mussel Adhesive Proteins

H Meng, J Gazella, BP Lee*
August 29, 2014
in: Bio- and Bioinspire Nanomaterials, D Ruiz-Molina, F Novio, and C Roscini, eds., Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCN; 2014, p. 309-334.

Nanotechnology has emerged as a novel avenue in designing multifunctional materials for various biomedical applications ranging from drug delivery and imaging. Nano-scaled materials (1–100 nm) have distinctive chemical and physical properties that cannot be obtained in their bulk state. Additionally, man-made nanomaterials seek to duplicate remarkable properties of naturally found materials (e.g., gecko adhesive pad, self-cleaning lotus leaf, materials properties of nacre). However, in designing functional nanomaterials, complicated treatment and expensive protocols are often required for surface treatment and modification. DOPA is a catecholic amino acid found in mussel adhesive proteins and is responsible for strong water-resistant adhesion and rapid curing of the adhesive. Catechol is a unique and versatile adhesive molecule capable of binding to both organic and inorganic surfaces through either irreversible covalent or strong reversible bonds. Incorporation DOPA and its derivatives into synthetic polymers have imparted these materials with strong, moisture-resistant adhesive properties. Here, we review the chemistry of catechol side chain and the use of various catecholic derivatives in stabilizing nanoparticles, enhancing materials properties of nanocomposites (e.g., hydrogels, films, fibers, etc.), and improving performance of gecko-mimetic adhesives. Finally, the auto-polymerization of dopamine to polydopamine and its application in developing superhydrophobic and multifunctional, therapeutic nanoparitcles are described.

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