What is the most appropriate surface for controlling interactions with proteins? Although this question has been considered for a long time in relation to the creation of biomedical materials, we have not succeeded in obtaining the expected surface because most surface design is approached from a physicochemical perspective. In contrast, biomembrane surfaces may possess the most preferable characteristics for controlling complex biological interactions. Recently, use of biomembrane structures has been adopted for preparing the surfaces of biomaterials.
In an attempt to understand biocompatibility, Nakabayashi and coworkers (Kadoma et al. 1978) first synthesized a methacrylate monomer with a phosphorylcholine group, 2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC), to obtain new medical polymer materials to mimic biomembrane surfaces (Fig. 3). In 1982, Nakaya et al. also succeeded in synthesizing MPC (Umeda et al. 1982). However, at those times, the degree of purity and yield of MPC was insufficient to allow evaluation of their functions. Ishi-hara et al. (1990) then developed a new synthetic route and succeeded in producing MPC with good yield as a white powder by recrystallization. MPC, which contains the polymerizable methacrylate group, can readily be copolymerized, enabling the design of numerous polymers with a wide range of molecular architectures including random (Ishihara et al. 1990; Ueda et al. 1992), block (Kojima et al. 1991; Ma et al. 2003a, b; Li et al. 2003), graft (Ishihara et al. 1994b; Iwasaki and Akiyoshi 2004), charged (Ishihara et al. 1994a; Ito et al. 2003), and end-functional polymers (Ishihara et al. 1994b). The homopolymer of MPC [poly(MPC)] is soluble in water. The solubility of MPC polymers can easily be altered by changing the structure and fraction of the comonomers.
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