Biofouling is a major issue in the field of nanomedicine and consists of the spontaneous and unwanted adsorption of biomolecules on engineered surfaces. In a biological context and referring to nanoparticles (NPs) acting as nanomedicines, the adsorption of biomolecules found in blood (mostly proteins) is known as protein corona. On the one hand, the protein corona, as it covers the NPs’ surface, can be considered the biological identity of engineered NPs, because the corona is what cells will “see” instead of the underlying NPs. As such, the protein corona will influence the fate, integrity, and performance of NPs in vivo. On the other hand, the physicochemical properties of the engineered NPs, such as their size, shape, charge, or hydrophobicity, will influence the identity of the proteins attracted to their surface. In this context, the design of coatings for NPs and surfaces that avoid biofouling is an active field of research. The gold standard in the field is the use of polyethylene glycol (PEG) molecules, although zwitterions have also proved to be efficient in preventing protein adhesion and fluorinated molecules are emerging as coatings with interesting properties. Hence, in this review, we will focus on recent examples of anti-biofouling coatings in three main areas, that is, PEGylated, zwitterionic, and fluorinated coatings.
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