Functionalization of block copolymer vesicle surfaces

Stefan Egli, Helmut Schlaad, Nico Bruns, Wolfgang Meier

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In dilute aqueous solutions certain amphiphilic block copolymers self-assemble into vesicles that enclose a small pool of water with a membrane. Such polymersomes have promising applications ranging from targeted drug-delivery devices, to biosensors, and nanoreactors. Interactions between block copolymer membranes and their surroundings are important factors that determine their potential biomedical applications. Such interactions are influenced predominantly by the membrane surface. We review methods to functionalize block copolymer vesicle surfaces by chemical means with ligands such as antibodies, adhesion moieties, enzymes, carbohydrates and fluorophores. Furthermore, surface-functionalization can be achieved by self-assembly of polymers that carry ligands at their chain ends or in their hydrophilic blocks. While this review focuses on the strategies to functionalize vesicle surfaces, the applications realized by, and envisioned for, such functional polymersomes are also highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-280
Number of pages29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2011


  • amphiphilic block copolymer
  • vesicle
  • polymersome
  • biomimetic membrane
  • surface functionalization
  • targeting ligand
  • conjugation
  • immobilization
  • functional blocks


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