Special Issue "Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives"

A special issue of Polymers (ISSN 2073-4360). This special issue belongs to the section "Biomacromolecules, Biobased and Biodegradable Polymers".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ângela Maria Almeida de Sousa
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
CICS-UBI – Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 6200–506 Covilhã, Portugal
Interests: Viral infections; HPV infection, Cervical cancer; DNA vaccines; Non-viral vectors; Nucleic acid vectors; Biopharmaceuticals; Drug delivery systems; Cancer therapy; Biotechnological processes; Purification approaches
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Diana Rita Barata Costa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CICS-UBI – Centro de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde, Universidade da Beira Interior, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 6200–506 Covilhã, Portugal
Interests: Biopolymers; Targeted Bioploymers; Stimuli-responsive Biopolymers; Nanoparticle systems; Drug delivery; Nuclear and Mitochondrial Gene therapy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the last decade, research on biopolymers has increased exponentially, and it has been considered an emergent topic due to its broad range of applications and recognized benefits. Their use in drug, nucleic acid or protein protection, carrier and controlled delivery for therapeutic effects, in scaffolds and membranes for bone regeneration or tissue engineering, or even in converting food packaging or other plastics to biodegradable materials are all extremely relevant applications, not only for biomedicine but also for the biopharmaceutical and food industry fields and for the environment. The recent advances in biopolymers have been targeted at overcoming the challenges on the obtention of more efficient, biocompatible, and cost-effective polymers, toward more advanced and high-technology applications. 

Thus, this Special Issue on “Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives” intends to bring an overview of innovative original research and review articles presenting actual and practical applications and scientific discussions in the field of biopolymers. Research topics can include but are not limited to the manufacturing, formulation, functionalization, structural design, characterization, morphology, biocompatibility, and applications of biopolymers.

We hope this Special Issue will promote scientific know-how exchange and highlight progress and fundamental aspects, as well as new perspectives to solve challenges focused on the biopolymer field.

Dr. Ângela Maria Almeida de Sousa
Dr. Diana Rita Barata Costa
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Polymers is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biopolymer applications
  • synthetic biopolymers
  • natural biopolymers
  • biodegradable polymers
  • biopolymer-based nanocomposites
  • functionalized biopolymers
  • biopolymer manufacturing
  • functional polymer coatings
  • membrane biopolymers

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Development of Peptide-Based Nanoparticles for Mitochondrial Plasmid DNA Delivery
Polymers 2021, 13(11), 1836; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13111836 - 01 Jun 2021
Viewed by 296
Abstract
A mitochondrion is a cellular organelle able to produce cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As in the nucleus, mitochondria contain their own genome: the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This genome is particularly susceptible to mutations that are at the basis [...] Read more.
A mitochondrion is a cellular organelle able to produce cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). As in the nucleus, mitochondria contain their own genome: the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This genome is particularly susceptible to mutations that are at the basis of a multitude of disorders, especially those affecting the heart, the central nervous system and muscles. Conventional clinical practice applied to mitochondrial diseases is very limited and ineffective; a clear need for innovative therapies is demonstrated. Gene therapy seems to be a promising approach. The use of mitochondrial DNA as a therapeutic, optimized by peptide-based complexes with mitochondrial targeting, can be seen as a powerful tool in the reestablishment of normal mitochondrial function. In line with this requirement, in this work and for the first time, a mitochondrial-targeting sequence (MTS) has been incorporated into previously researched peptides, to confer on them a targeting ability. These peptides were then considered to complex a plasmid DNA (pDNA) which contains the mitochondrial gene ND1 (mitochondrially encoded NADH dehydrogenase 1 protein), aiming at the formation of peptide-based nanoparticles. Currently, the ND1 plasmid is one of the most advanced bioengineered vectors for conducting research on mitochondrial gene expression. The formed complexes were characterized in terms of pDNA complexation capacity, morphology, size, surface charge and cytotoxic profile. These data revealed that the developed carriers possess suitable properties for pDNA delivery. Furthermore, in vitro studies illustrated the mitochondrial targeting ability of the novel peptide/pDNA complexes. A comparison between the different complexes revealed the most promising ones that complex pDNA and target mitochondria. This may contribute to the optimization of peptide-based non-viral systems to target mitochondria, instigating progress in mitochondrial gene therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Article
Synthesis and Characterization of Diosgenin Encapsulated Poly-ε-Caprolactone-Pluronic Nanoparticles and Its Effect on Brain Cancer Cells
Polymers 2021, 13(8), 1322; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13081322 - 18 Apr 2021
Viewed by 559
Abstract
Diosgenin encapsulated PCL-Pluronic nanoparticles (PCL-F68-D-NPs) were developed using the nanoprecipitation method to improve performance in brain cancer (glioblastoma) therapy. The nanoparticles were characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS)/Zeta potential, Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectra, X-ray diffraction (XRD), Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM), and [...] Read more.
Diosgenin encapsulated PCL-Pluronic nanoparticles (PCL-F68-D-NPs) were developed using the nanoprecipitation method to improve performance in brain cancer (glioblastoma) therapy. The nanoparticles were characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS)/Zeta potential, Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectra, X-ray diffraction (XRD), Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FESEM), and Transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The encapsulation efficiency, loading efficiency, and yield were calculated. The in vitro release rate was determined, and the kinetic model of diosgenin release was plotted and ascertained. The cytotoxicity was checked by MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide)assay against U87-MG cells (glioblastoma cell lines). The obtained nanoparticles demonstrated good size distribution, stability, morphology, chemical, and mechanical properties. The nanoparticles also possessed high encapsulation efficiency, loading efficiency, and yield. The release rate of Diosgenin was shown in a sustained manner. The in vitro cytotoxicity of PCL-F68-D-NPs showed higher toxicity against U87-MG cells than free Diosgenin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Article
Pullulan–Apple Fiber Biocomposite Films: Optical, Mechanical, Barrier, Antioxidant and Antibacterial Properties
Polymers 2021, 13(6), 870; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13060870 - 11 Mar 2021
Viewed by 421
Abstract
More than 150 million tons of synthetic plastics are produced worldwide from petrochemical-based materials, many of these plastics being used to produce single-use consumer products like food packaging. The main goal of this work was to research the production and characterization of pullulan–apple [...] Read more.
More than 150 million tons of synthetic plastics are produced worldwide from petrochemical-based materials, many of these plastics being used to produce single-use consumer products like food packaging. The main goal of this work was to research the production and characterization of pullulan–apple fiber biocomposite films as a new food packaging material. The optical, mechanical, and barrier properties of the developed biocomposite films were evaluated. Furthermore, the antioxidant and antibacterial activities of the biocomposite films were additionally studied. The results show that the Tensile Index and Elastic Modulus of the pullulan–apple fiber films were significantly higher (p-value < 0.05) when compared to the pullulan films. Regarding the water vapor permeability, no significant differences (p-value < 0.05) were observed in water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) when the apple fiber was incorporated into the biocomposite films. A significant increase (p-value < 0.05) of water contact angle in both sides of the films was observed when the apple fiber was incorporated into pullulan, indicating an increase in the hydrophobicity of the developed biocomposite films. It is worth noting the hydrophobicity of the (rough) upper side of the pullulan–apple fiber films, which present a water contact angle of 109.75°. It was possible to verify the microbial growth inhibition around the pullulan–apple fiber films for all the tested bacteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Article
Effect of Plasmid DNA Size on Chitosan or Polyethyleneimine Polyplexes Formulation
Polymers 2021, 13(5), 793; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13050793 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 482
Abstract
Gene therapy could be simply defined as a strategy for the introduction of a functional copy of desired genes in patients, to correct some specific mutation and potentially treat the respective disorder. However, this straightforward definition hides very complex processes related to the [...] Read more.
Gene therapy could be simply defined as a strategy for the introduction of a functional copy of desired genes in patients, to correct some specific mutation and potentially treat the respective disorder. However, this straightforward definition hides very complex processes related to the design and preparation of the therapeutic genes, as well as the development of suitable gene delivery systems. Within non-viral vectors, polymeric nanocarriers have offered an ideal platform to be applied as gene delivery systems. Concerning this, the main goal of the study was to do a systematic evaluation on the formulation of pDNA delivery systems based on the complexation of different sized plasmids with chitosan (CH) or polyethyleneimine (PEI) polymers to search for the best option regarding encapsulation efficiency, surface charge, size, and delivery ability. The cytotoxicity and the transfection efficiency of these systems were accessed and, for the best p53 encoding pDNA nanosystems, the ability to promote protein expression was also evaluated. Overall, it was showed that CH polyplexes are more efficient on transfection when compared with the PEI polyplexes, resulting in higher P53 protein expression. Cells transfected with CH/p53-pDNA polyplexes presented an increase of around 54.2% on P53 expression, while the transfection with the PEI/p53-pDNA polyplexes resulted in a 32% increase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Article
An Optical Sensor for Dengue Envelope Proteins Using Polyamidoamine Dendrimer Biopolymer-Based Nanocomposite Thin Film: Enhanced Sensitivity, Selectivity, and Recovery Studies
Polymers 2021, 13(5), 762; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13050762 - 28 Feb 2021
Viewed by 502
Abstract
This paper proposes a novel idea to enhance the sensitivity and selectivity of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) optical sensor for detection of dengue virus type-2 envelope proteins (DENV-2 E-proteins) using polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer biopolymer-based nanocomposite thin film. For this purpose, two ranges of [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a novel idea to enhance the sensitivity and selectivity of surface plasmon resonance (SPR) optical sensor for detection of dengue virus type-2 envelope proteins (DENV-2 E-proteins) using polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimer biopolymer-based nanocomposite thin film. For this purpose, two ranges of DENV-2 E-protein concentrations, i.e., 0.000008–0.0001 nM and 0.00008–0.005 nM were evaluated, and the lowest detectable concentration was achieved at 0.00008 nM. The incorporation of PAMAM dendrimer-based nanocomposite thin film with an SPR sensor exhibited a significant increase in sensitivity and binding affinity to a lower range DENV-2 E-protein concentrations. Moreover, the proposed sensor displayed good selectivity towards DENV-2 E-proteins and have an average recovery of 80–120%. The findings of this study demonstrated that PAMAM dendrimer-based nanocomposite thin film combined with SPR sensor is a promising diagnostic tool for sensitive and selective detection of DENV-2 E-proteins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Article
Characterization and Biotechnological Potential of Intracellular Polyhydroxybutyrate by Stigeoclonium sp. B23 Using Cassava Peel as Carbon Source
Polymers 2021, 13(5), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13050687 - 25 Feb 2021
Viewed by 651
Abstract
The possibility of utilizing lignocellulosic agro-industrial waste products such as cassava peel hydrolysate (CPH) as carbon sources for polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) biosynthesis and characterization by Amazonian microalga Stigeoclonium sp. B23. was investigated. Cassava peel was hydrolyzed to reducing sugars to obtain increased glucose content [...] Read more.
The possibility of utilizing lignocellulosic agro-industrial waste products such as cassava peel hydrolysate (CPH) as carbon sources for polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) biosynthesis and characterization by Amazonian microalga Stigeoclonium sp. B23. was investigated. Cassava peel was hydrolyzed to reducing sugars to obtain increased glucose content with 2.56 ± 0.07 mmol/L. Prior to obtaining PHB, Stigeoclonium sp. B23 was grown in BG-11 for characterization and Z8 media for evaluation of PHB nanoparticles’ cytotoxicity in zebrafish embryos. As results, microalga produced the highest amount of dry weight of PHB with 12.16 ± 1.28 (%) in modified Z8 medium, and PHB nanoparticles exerted some toxicity on zebrafish embryos at concentrations of 6.25–100 µg/mL, increased mortality (<35%) and lethality indicators as lack of somite formation (<25%), non-detachment of tail, and lack of heartbeat (both <15%). Characterization of PHB by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), differential scanning calorimeter (DSC), and thermogravimetry (TGA) analysis revealed the polymer obtained from CPH cultivation to be morphologically, thermally, physically, and biologically acceptable and promising for its use as a biomaterial and confirmed the structure of the polymer as PHB. The findings revealed that microalgal PHB from Stigeoclonium sp. B23 was a promising and biologically feasible new option with high commercial value, potential for biomaterial applications, and also suggested the use of cassava peel as an alternative renewable resource of carbon for PHB biosynthesis and the non-use of agro-industrial waste and dumping concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Review

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Review
Recent Developments in Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) Polysaccharides: Isolation, Structural Characteristics, Biological Activities and Application
Polymers 2021, 13(9), 1441; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13091441 - 29 Apr 2021
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) is a kind of medicine and health food widely used by folk in China, Russia, Korea, and some occidental countries. Among the extracts from Inonotus obliquus, Inonotus obliquus polysaccharide (IOPS) is supposed to be one of the major [...] Read more.
Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) is a kind of medicine and health food widely used by folk in China, Russia, Korea, and some occidental countries. Among the extracts from Inonotus obliquus, Inonotus obliquus polysaccharide (IOPS) is supposed to be one of the major bioactive components in Inonotus obliquus, which possesses antitumor, antioxidant, anti-virus, hypoglycemic, and hypolipidemic activities. In this review, the current advancements on extraction, purification, structural characteristics, and biological activities of IOPS were summarized. This review can provide significant insight into the IOPS bioactivities as their in vitro and in vivo data were summarized, and some possible mechanisms were listed. Furthermore, applications of IOPS were reviewed and discussed; IOPS might be a potential candidate for the treatment of cancers and type 2 diabetes. Besides, new perspectives for the future work of IOPS were also proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Review
Bacterial Biopolymer: Its Role in Pathogenesis to Effective Biomaterials
Polymers 2021, 13(8), 1242; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13081242 - 12 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 720
Abstract
Bacteria are considered as the major cell factories, which can effectively convert nitrogen and carbon sources to a wide variety of extracellular and intracellular biopolymers like polyamides, polysaccharides, polyphosphates, polyesters, proteinaceous compounds, and extracellular DNA. Bacterial biopolymers find applications in pathogenicity, and their [...] Read more.
Bacteria are considered as the major cell factories, which can effectively convert nitrogen and carbon sources to a wide variety of extracellular and intracellular biopolymers like polyamides, polysaccharides, polyphosphates, polyesters, proteinaceous compounds, and extracellular DNA. Bacterial biopolymers find applications in pathogenicity, and their diverse materialistic and chemical properties make them suitable to be used in medicinal industries. When these biopolymer compounds are obtained from pathogenic bacteria, they serve as important virulence factors, but when they are produced by non-pathogenic bacteria, they act as food components or biomaterials. There have been interdisciplinary studies going on to focus on the molecular mechanism of synthesis of bacterial biopolymers and identification of new targets for antimicrobial drugs, utilizing synthetic biology for designing and production of innovative biomaterials. This review sheds light on the mechanism of synthesis of bacterial biopolymers and its necessary modifications to be used as cell based micro-factories for the production of tailor-made biomaterials for high-end applications and their role in pathogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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Review
Trends in Chitosan as a Primary Biopolymer for Functional Films and Coatings Manufacture for Food and Natural Products
Polymers 2021, 13(5), 767; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym13050767 - 01 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 637
Abstract
Some of the current challenges faced by the food industry deal with the natural ripening process and the short shelf-life of fresh and minimally processed products. The loss of vitamins and minerals, lipid oxidation, enzymatic browning, and growth of microorganisms have been the [...] Read more.
Some of the current challenges faced by the food industry deal with the natural ripening process and the short shelf-life of fresh and minimally processed products. The loss of vitamins and minerals, lipid oxidation, enzymatic browning, and growth of microorganisms have been the main issues for many years within the innovation and improvement of food packaging, which seeks to preserve and protect the product until its consumption. Most of the conventional packaging are petroleum-derived plastics, which after product consumption becomes a major concern due to environmental damage provoked by their difficult degradation. In this sense, many researchers have shown interest in edible films and coatings, which represent an environmentally friendly alternative for food packaging. To date, chitosan (CS) is among the most common materials in the formulation of these biodegradable packaging together with polysaccharides, proteins, and lipids. The good film-forming and biological properties (i.e., antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral) of CS have fostered its usage in food packaging. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to collect and discuss the latest development works (over the last five years) aimed at using CS in the manufacture of edible films and coatings for food preservation. Particular attention has been devoted to relevant findings in the field, together with the novel preparation protocols of such biodegradable packaging. Finally, recent trends in new concepts of composite films and coatings are also addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biopolymers: Recent Progress and New Perspectives)
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