Preparation of Poly(ethylene glycol) Protected Nanoparticles with Variable Bioconjugate Ligand Density

Maleimide-functional poly(ethylene glycol)-<i>b</i>-poly(ε-caprolactone) nanoparticles (NPs) were prepared via the Flash NanoPrecipitation technique. Subsequent reaction with a model ligand, bovine serum albumin (BSA), was conducted using thiol-maleimide conjugation. Reaction of up to 22% of NP surface maleimide-PEG tethers was obtained, with the percent conversion being essentially independent of the ratio of maleimide-PEG to methyl-PEG over the range 30−100%, respectively. At the highest surface coverage, BSA is calculated to essentially cover the NP surface area. Reaction parameters (reaction order and docking constant) describing the extent of ligand conjugation were determined. The reaction order is applicable to the conjugation of ligands presenting free thiol functionalities, while the value of the docking constant is ligand-dependent and accounts for physical and dynamic properties of the ligand−PEG interaction. Jointly, the particle formation process, using block copolymer-directed kinetically controlled assembly and surface functionalization represent a versatile new platform for the preparation of bioconjugated NPs with accurate control of ligand density and minimal processing steps.