Developing new supramolecular tools for biomedical and environmental applications

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University of New Brunswick
Supramolecular chemistry has quickly developed from simple host-guest chemistry to the self-assembly of molecular building blocks to form large aggregates, both in solution and the solid state. Currently, supramolecular structures are being developed for several applications, including gas storage technologies, heterogeneous catalysis, chemical sensors and drug delivery systems. Among these structures are metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), metal-organic polyhedra (MOPs) and vesicles. Here, we assess the ability of MOFs to remove cholesterol from the bloodstream. A diverse series of MOFs were first selected from the literature and then synthesised, characterised and their ability to uptake cholesterol quantified by liquid phase ¹H NMR analysis. Further work was undertaken where different methodologies to encapsulate MOF particles within a vesicle - a lipid bilayer cell model - were explored. This process is designed to improve the biostability and bioavailability of the MOF candidates in their role as cholesterol-removal agents. This study led to the serendipitous finding that micron-sized MOF particles can be used to immobilise vesicles, which may provide an alternative strategy to the study of their biophysical and mechanical properties. Finally, two novel, fluorine-rich MOPs have been designed for the selective uptake of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and for eventual use within the environmental chemistry domain. The molecular building blocks that comprise these MOPs have been synthesised and characterised, and the final steps of MOP synthesis and characterisation are currently ongoing.