Synthesis of Thermo-Responsive Monofunctionalized Diblock Copolymer Worms

Xuan Xue*, Feifei Wang, Minhao Shi, Faez Iqbal Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poly(glycerol monomethacrylate)-block-poly(2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate) (PGMA-PHPMA) with worm-like morphology is a typical example of reversible addition–fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) dispersion polymerized thermo-responsive copolymer via polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) in aqueous solution. Chain transfer agents (CTAs) are the key component in controlling RAFT, the structures of which determine the end functional groups of the polymer chain. It is therefore of interest to monofunctionalize the polymers via CTA moiety, for bioactive functionality conjugation and in the meantime maintain the precisely controlled morphology of the copolymers and the related property. In this work, a newly designed CTA 5-(2-(tert-butoxycarbonylamino) ethylamino)-2-cyano-5-oxopentan-2-yl benzodithioate (t-Boc CPDB) was synthesized and used for the RAFT polymerization of PGMA45-PHPMA120. Subsequently, PGMA45-PHPMA120 copolymers with primary amine, maleimide, and reduced L-glutathione (a tripeptide) monofunctionalized terminals were synthesized via deprotection and conjugation reactions. These monofunctionalized copolymers maintain worm-like morphology and thermo-responsive property in aqueous solution (10% w/v), as confirmed by the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images, and the observation of the phase transition behavior in between 4 °C and room temperature (~20 °C), respectively. Summarily, a range of thermo-responsive monofunctionalized PGMA45-PHPMA120 diblock copolymer worms were successfully synthesized, which are expected to offer potential biomedical applications, such as in polymer therapeutics, drug delivery, and diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4590
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • bioconjugation
  • diblock copolymer worm
  • monofunctionalization
  • PISA
  • post-modification
  • RAFT
  • thermo-responsive hydrogel
  • worm gel


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