Polymeric Nanocapsules for Enzyme Stabilization in Organic Solvents

Herein we report an approach to encapsulate enzymes within polymeric nanocapsules dispersed in an organic solvent via inverse miniemulsion periphery RAFT polymerization (IMEPP). Glucose oxidase (GOx), which has various applications but is unstable at elevated temperature and in organic solvents, was chosen as a model enzyme. In this study, we have explored the use of photoinitiation under visible (blue) light instead of thermal initiation to avoid enzyme denaturation by heating. GOx was successfully encapsulated within polymeric nanocapsules (∼200 nm) and showed high activity (71–100% relative to free GOx in PBS) dispersed in toluene/<i>t</i>-BuOH. The nanocapsules were thus able to protect GOx and enable it to function in an organic solvent mixture where native GOx would otherwise undergo denaturation. This approach of enzyme encapsulation is significant as it may lead to increased industrial applications of enzyme biocatalysis, expanding the use of enzymes as nontoxic and environmentally friendly biocompatible catalysts.