Journal of molecular recognition : JMR

Towards water compatible MIPs for sensing in aqueous media.

PMID 22641532


When synthesizing molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), a few fundamental principles should be kept in mind. There is a strong correlation between porogen polarity, MIP microenvironment polarity and the imprinting effect itself. The combination of these parameters eventually determines the overall binding behavior of a MIP in a given solvent. In addition, it is shown that MIP binding is strongly influenced by the polarity of the rebinding solvent. Because the use of MIPs in biomedical environments is of considerable interest, it is important that these MIPs perform well in aqueous media. In this article, various approaches are explored towards a water compatible MIP for the target molecule l-nicotine. To this end, the imprinting effect together with the MIP matrix polarity is fine-tuned during MIP synthesis. The binding behavior of the resulting MIPs is evaluated by performing batch rebinding experiments that makes it possible to select the most suitable MIP/non-imprinted polymer couple for future application in aqueous environments. One method to achieve improved compatibility with water is referred to as porogen tuning, in which porogens of varying polarities are used. It is demonstrated that, especially when multiple porogens are mixed, this approach can lead to superior performance in aqueous environments. Another method involves the incorporation of polar or non-polar comonomers in the MIP matrix. It is shown that by carefully selecting these monomers, it is also possible to obtain MIPs, which can selectively bind their target in water.