Explaining Dendrimers

Dendrimers are man made, nanoscale compounds with unique properties that make them useful to the health and pharmaceutical industry as both enhancements to existing products and as entirely new products. Dendrimers are constructed by the successive addition of layers of branching groups. Each new layer is called a generation. The final generation incorporates the surface molecules that give the dendrimer the desired function for pharmaceutical, life science, chemical, electronic and materials applications.


Dendrimers fall under the broad heading of nanotechnology, which covers the manipulation of matter in the size range of 1-100 nanometers (one million nanometers equal one millimetre) to create compounds, structures and devices with novel, pre-determined properties.



Advantages of Dendrimers

Starpharma's dendrimer technology can create precisely-defined synthetic complex macromolecules that are applicable to a wide range of medical uses. Traditionally, "well defined" complex macromolecules such as proteins were largely found only in natural systems.


One important property of dendrimers is “polyvalency” or the presence of multiple active groups on the surface of the dendrimer. This is significant because simultaneous presentation of active groups can yield entirely new or enhanced activity compared to single presentation of the same active group.


The properties of Starpharma’s polylysine dendrimers make them suitable for pharmaceutical applications. For example, they are well defined chemical entities, which simplifies the regulatory process for their approval. They are also "biofriendly", being made predominantly from the amino acid, lysine.


How are Dendrimers made?

Dendrimers are constructed by the successive addition of layers to the branching groups. The synthesis of dendrimers involves a core molecule with branching groups to which other branching molecules are added (see figure below) in layers. Each new layer is called a generation. The final generation can incorporate additional active groups that give the particular functionality to the dendrimer.


When making dendrimers, Starpharma's chemists can control their physical and chemical properties with the selection of the core, branching and surface molecules determining the properties of the different dendrimers required for pharmaceutical, life science, chemical and materials applications.