Dr Louisa Gilmore

Core-shell molecularly-imprinted particles for binding peptides

PhD project supervised by Dr. S. Rimmer and Prof. S. MacNeil, and funded by the BBSRC [2005-2008]


The concept of molecular imprinting is based on the principle of molecular recognition, described as the preferential binding of a chemical to its “receptor”. This binding is highly selective and occurs favourably in comparison to the binding of structural analogues.
Monomers cluster around the template molecule, after polymerisation they are fixed in this shape.

A schematic representation of molecular imprinting

Above: A schematic representation of molecular imprinting.

The principle behind molecular imprinting is to allow a template molecule to interact with a functional monomer, producing a template-monomer complex. The monomer present is then polymerised with a suitable cross-linker to produce a rigid polymer. The template is then removed to leave cavities with a memory for the template in terms of size, shape and functionality. Upon the reintroduction of the template molecule to the polymer it should rebind to these cavities with high selectivity over any other compound present.

For this project, core-shell molecularly imprinted particles (CS-MIP) are produced via two-stage emulsion polymerisation reaction, allowing the production of a surface imprinted material with easily accessible cavity sites. Short peptide chains are synthesised by Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis (SPPS) and are used as template molecules to examine the binding of peptides using CS-MIP.