Molecular recognition is a fundamental and ubiquitous process that is the driving force behind life. Natural recognition elements – including antibodies, enzymes, nucleic acids, and cells – exploit non-covalent interactions to bind to their targets with exceptionally strong affinities. Due to this unparalleled proficiency, scientists have long sought to mimic natural recognition pathways. One promising approach is molecularly imprintedpolymers (MIPs), which are fully synthetic systems formed via the crosslinking of organic polymers in the presence of a template molecule, which results in stereo-specific binding sites for this analyte of interest. Macromolecularlyimprintedpolymers, those synthesized in the presence of macromolecule templates (>1500 Da), are of particular importance because they open up the field for a whole new set of robust diagnostic tools. Although the specific recognition of small-molecular-weight analytes is now considered routine, extension of these efficacious procedures to the protein regime has, thus far, proved challenging. This paper reviews the main approaches employed, highlights studies of interest with an emphasis on recent work, and offers suggestions for future success in the field of macromolecularlyimprintedpolymers.
This paper was originally published in Acta Biomaterialia (2012) 8, 461-473.