Recent advances in permeable polymersomes: fabrication, responsiveness, and applications

Yanyan Zhu, Shoupeng Cao, Meng Huo, Jan C. M. van Hest and Hailong Che

Published: 2023

Polymersomes are vesicular nanostructures enclosed by a bilayer-membrane self-assembled from amphiphilic block copolymers, which exhibit higher stability compared with their biological analogues (e.g. liposomes). Due to their versatility, polymersomes have found various applications in different research fields such as drug delivery, nanomedicine, biological nanoreactors, and artificial cells. However, polymersomes prepared with high molecular weight components typically display low permeability to molecules and ions. It hence remains a major challenge to balance the opposing features of robustness and permeability of polymersomes. In this review, we focus on the design and strategies for fabricating permeable polymersomes, including polymersomes with intrinsic permeability, the formation of nanopores in the membrane bilayers by protein insertion, and the construction of stimuli-responsive polymersomes. Then, we highlight the applications of permeable polymersomes in the fields of biomimetic nanoreactors, artificial cells and organelles, and nanomedicine, to underline the challenges in the development of polymersomes as soft matter with biomedical utilities.

Full Access Link: Chemical Science