A library of poly(2-oxazoline)s functionalized with controllable amounts of alendronate, hydroxyl, and carboxylic acid side groups was successfully synthesized to create novel polymers with tunable affinity for calcium cations. The affinity of alendronate-containing polymers for calcium cations was quantified using isothermal titration calorimetry. Thermodynamic measurements revealed that the Ca2+-binding affinity of these polymers increased linearly with the amount of alendronate functionalization, up to values (KCa2+ = 2.4 × 105 M–1) that were about 120-fold higher than those for previously reported polymers. The calcium-binding capacity of alendronate-functionalized poly(2-oxazoline)s was exploited to form robust hydrogel networks cross-linked using reversible physical bonds. Oscillatory rheology showed that these hydrogels recovered more than 100% of their initial storage modulus after severe network destruction. The versatile synthesis of alendronate-functionalized polymers and their strong and tunable affinity for calcium cations render these polymers promising candidates for various biomedical applications.
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