Responsive hydrophobically associating polymers: a review of structure and properties

S.R. Tonge, B.J. Tighe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Responsive hydrophobically associating polymers can in many ways be considered to be analogous to proteins in their ability to form compact molecules with a defined secondary structure, and hence, functionality. These molecules are characterized by the presence of alternating charged and hydrophobic groups. The balance between charge repulsion and hydrophobic interactions is sensitive to environmental pH and therefore changes in pH produce controllable conformational changes. The change from a charged extended chain to a collapsed uncharged coil structure is sometimes referred to as hypercoiling behaviour and enables the polymer to act as a simple switch between an 'on' and 'off' state. The purpose of this review is to illustrate the structure and behaviour of polymers that exhibit hypercoiling behaviour and to highlight their potential pharmaceutical applications, which in terms of drug delivery is likely to be related to their surface behaviour and solubilizing activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date3 Oct 2001
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2001


  • hypercoiling polymers
  • polyelectrolytes
  • protein analogues
  • apoproteins
  • surface-active polymers
  • polycations
  • polyanions
  • lipid solubilisation
  • drug delivery


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