Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry

Polymer and Colloid Immunotherapeutics

The department was established in 2021 as a part of the Biomacromolecular and Bioanalogous Systems Center (BIOMOL) of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry Czech Academy of Sciences (IMC CAS). The laboratories of the department are located in the Biotechnological and Biomedical Center of the Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Vestec (BIOCEV). The members of the department are experts in the field of organic/polymer synthesis and materials science with extensive experience in solving many synthetic and physicochemical challenges related to the constructions of polymer- and colloid-based delivery platforms of various bioactive compounds in vivo. The mission of the department is fundamental and applied research in the field of polymer and colloid immunotherapeutics and diagnostics with potential use in human medicine. Specifically, the research is focused on the design, synthesis and characterization of polymer- and colloid-drug/contrast agent conjugates for the treatment of infectious and neoplastic diseases and for non-invasive imaging of internal body structures.

Research Scope

The research activities of the department are mainly focused on the development of new types of polymer, colloid and hybrid polymer-colloid delivery systems of various immunotherapeutics, chemotherapeutics and contrast agents for the treatment and diagnosis of serious human diseases. Special attention is paid namely to the controlled synthesis and detailed physicochemical characterization of biocompatible nanocarriers of variable size, composition and morphology with regard to their biological and biophysical properties in vivo. Modern synthetic, polymerization and bioconjugation processes as well as sophisticated analytical and instrumental techniques leading to the preparation of highly defined tailored materials are used throughout the research.

Macromolecular vaccines for the treatment of infectious and cancer diseases

One of the research goals of the department is the development of advanced macromolecular vaccines inducing safe, effective and durable stimulation of the immune system. Vaccine consist of peptide or antigens and highly potent synthetic adjuvants, simultaneously conjugated to a polymer carrier that provide immunotherapeutics with higher solubility in body fluids, more effective interaction with immune system cells, and long-lasting effect. The influence of the composition and architecture of the polymer carrier or the type, density and method of conjugation of immunotherapeutics is studied with respect to the immunological properties of the conjugates in vivo. Macromolecular vaccines are being tested for the prophylaxis of infectious diseases or for the immunotherapy of cancers.

J. R. Francica, R. Laga, G. M. Lynn, G. Mužíková, L. Androvič et al., Star nanoparticles delivering HIV-1 peptide minimal immunogens elicit near-native Envelope antibody responses in nonhuman primates.
PLOS Biology (2019)

Polymer-based contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging

Next goal includes the development of advanced contrast agents for 31P, 19F and 1H-MRI enabling anatomical and functional imaging of internal organs, tissues (including tumors) and cells of the human body. The studied materials are synthetic water-soluble polymers containing phosphorus or fluorine (or both) or their conjugates with iron-based paramagnetic or superparamagnetic metals. The effects of the composition and architecture of the polymer chain and methods of their conjugation with (super)paramagnetic metals are studied with respect to their MRI detectability in vitro and in vivo. Polymer contrast agents are tested for functional MRI imaging of inflammatory and tumor tissues.

Nanoparticle materials for photoacoustic tomography

Another part of the research is devoted to the development of contrast agents for photoacoustic imaging based on surface-modified polypyrrole nanoparticles and core-shell nanoparticles with superhydrophobic cores with low refractive index. The particles are designed to generate the photoacoustic signals directly by their matrices or by a special NIR-absorbing dye immobilized in a superhydrophobic core.

M. Paúrová, I. Šeděnková, J. Hromádková, M. Babič., Polypyrrole nanoparticles: control of the size and morphology.
J. Polym. Res. (2020)