Biomolecular Materials

Much of our research in this area uses Elastin-like Polypeptides (ELPs), a class of stimulus responsive “smart” peptide polymers derived from a Val-Pro-Gly-Xaa-Gly motif found in tropoelastin that display lower critical solution temperature (LCST) phase behavior. A primary focus of our research in ELPs is the development of applications in biotechnology and medicine that exploit their phase transition behavior. These applications include the delivery of anticancer therapeutics to solid tumors by self-assembled nanoparticles of ELP-drug conjugates, diblock ELPs that self-assemble into monodisperse micelles in response to a thermal trigger, other variants that can disassemble in response to a pH trigger, others that are stabilized by metal ion chelation within the core of the micelle. We also have ongoing projects in using ELPs as injectable spots for local or systemic delivery of drugs.