Degradable Polyphosphoester-Protein Conjugates: "PPEylation" of Proteins

Tobias Steinbach, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Pharmacokinetic properties determine the efficacy of protein therapeutics. The covalent attachment of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) extends the half-life of such biologicals to maintain a therapeutically effective concentration over a prolonged period of time and improves administration and compliance. A major obstacle of these polymer-protein conjugates is the chemical stability of the PEG preventing its metabolism and leading to side effects. Instead, we propose the PPEylation, that is, the conjugation of degradable poly(phosphoester)s (PPE) to proteins, in order to generate fully biodegradable polymer-protein conjugates. The structure of the PPEylated protein conjugates was verified with mass spectrometry and size exclusion chromatography. They were compared to structural analogues, except classical, PEGylated proteins, and exhibit comparable bioactivity, but avoiding any nondegradable polymer in the conjugate. We proved the degradation of the protective polymer shell surrounding the conjugate in aqueous environments at physiological conditions by online triple detection size exclusion chromatography and gel electrophoresis. We believe that this research will provide an attractive alternative for future drug design with implications for the clinical use of biologicals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3338-3346
Number of pages9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

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