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Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering

The Institute's research team has more than 35 years experience in organic and macromolecular chemistry and molecular engineering. The team created new methods of step-growth polymerization (polycondensation) widely known as "Active Polycondensation" and "Silyl Polycondensation". Using the said methods almost all the basic classes of heterochain polymers such as polyamides, polyesters, polyurethanes, polyureas, polyheteroarylenes, etc. were obtained. Especially valuable are new AA-BB type macromolecular systems (polymers) composed of naturally occurring α-amino acids and non-toxic building blocks like α-hydroxy acids, fatty diols and dicarboxylic acid, originally developed by the Institute's team. The new macromolecular systems called as "bio-analogous polymers on the basis of α-amino acids (ABBA) were also obtained of various classes: polyamides, polyurethanes, polyureas, poly(ester amide)s, poly(ester urethane)s, poly(ester urea)s, poly(ether ester amide)s, poly(ether ester urethane)s, poly(ether ester urea)s and their copolymers. Besides of this chemical versatility, three types of ABBA could be obtained. Those are: (i) "non-functional polymers" having no lateral functional groups (terminal groups only), (ii) "functional polymers" containing various types of functional groups such as hydroxyl, amino, carboxyl, and epoxy groups, unsaturated bonds, etc. and (iii) ionic polymers – polycations and polyanions. The main features that distinguishes the new ABBA polymers from amino acid based AB type polymers like polypeptides, proteins of synthetic poly(amino acid)s are the non-conventional orientation of α-amino acids and the existence of other types of chemical bonds besides peptide (amide) bonds in the macromolecules. In other words, the ABBA have another molecular architecture that provides low immunogenicity that is especially important for the polymers destined for the application in biomedicine. These polymers are also promising for the use in agriculture and food processing.

Amino acid based biodegradable polymers. ABBA polymers are promising as biocompatible and bio-assimilating (like proteins), and biodegradable (resorbable) surgical materials and drug sustained/controlled releasing systems. As noted, such types of systems are also promising for the use in agriculture and food processing. For the polymers aimed for these applications it is important it is important to be subjected to biodegradation with reasonable rates, and for this, easily hydrolysable ester bonds are incorporated into the polymeric backbones. In other words ester classes of polymers - poly(ester amide)s, poly(ester urethane)s, and poly(ester urea)s having a wide range of chemical, physical-chemical, biochemical and mechanical properties. This types of ABBA we call as Amino Acid Based Biodegradable Polymers (AABBPs).

The advantages of AABBPs as compared with the existing commercially successful polymers like polyesters are: (a) the existence in the macromolecules specific groups that provide enzymes-specific hydrolysis (biodegradation); (b) ample availability and cheapness of starting materials and monomers; (c) low melting temperatures (60-180) and solubility in common organic solvents (ethanol, chloroform, methylene chloride, tetrahydrofurane etc.) that facilitates their processing into different shapes; (d) a wide range of material properties – from water soluble polymers, hydrogels and amphiphilic micelle-forming to viscose-flow, film-forming and bone-like materials. Some of AABBPs easily form micro and nanoparticles (promising as containers for drug-delivery purposes including target delivery), nanofibers (having a high potential for biomedical applications) and porous films (promising as scaffolds for cell cloning).

 

The main research topics
The research at the institute is complex and interdisciplinary based on the following disciplines: organic chemistry, macromolecular chemistry, biochemistry, physical and colloidal chemistry, molecular engineering, nanochemistry and nanopharmacy as well as molecular biology and physiology.