Method of Preparation of Biodegradable Nanoparticles with Recognition Characteristics

Life Sciences : Drug Delivery

Available for licensing


  • Nicholas Peppas, Sc.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Heidi Culver , Biomedical Engineering

Background/unmet need

Molecularity imprinted polymers (MIPs) are polymeric carriers capable of recognizing target biomolecules in a way comparable to antibodies recognizing their specific antigens. In response, the MIPs are capable of delivering beneficial agents such as drugs, cosmetic products, and consumer products. At The University of Texas at Austin, there is a portfolio of IP that addresses methods and processes used to recognize small molecular weight molecules.

However, recognition of molecules with larger molecular weights, such as proteins, is more difficult and has not been achieved with great success. Present bulk imprinting methods give significant problems in preparation and processing because of diffusional limitations. Proteins are large molecules and therefore diffuse slowly into the core of bulk MIPs. A recognitive process where diffusional limitations would control the overall phenomenon would limit potential applications in pharmaceutical, cosmetic and consumer applications.

For this reason, surface MIPs, in which the binding cavities are localized at the surface, are particularly attractive for fast, accurate recognition of proteins. Such methods have been proposed in the literature. However, for in vivo applications, none of the previous technologies have addressed the fate of the MIP/carrier once the recognition process has taken place.

Invention Description

The present invention addresses the preparation and use of binding cavities that are particularly attractive for fast, accurate recognition of proteins. In addition, the new MIPs are biodegradable, and the biodegradation can be controlled to occur after the complete recognition of the beneficial agent that we try to recognize/diagnose or often eliminate from a biological system.

These MIP nanoparticles could ideally be used for in vivo diagnostics by accurately detecting variations in the concentration and localization of a certain biomacromolecule that is overexpressed in a disease such as cancer. These purpose of using the biodegradable nanoparticle core is so that the body could easily break down the nanoparticle core into non-toxic components after diagnosis. Additional applications of the invention include the use of these novel MIPs in the consumer and cosmetic field.


  • Reduces toxic side effects
  • Could detect proteins in complex biological media
  • Lower cost than biological counterparts (i.e., antibodies)


  • Ease and scalability of procedure
  • Biodegradable (i.e. degrades into non-toxic components)
  • High adsorption capacity

Market potential/applications

Pharmaceutical applications, medical device coatings, cosmetic, and consumer goods 

IP Status

  • 1 foreign patent application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent application filed