Research Topics

Explore the scientific questions that fascinate us


 The Wich Research Lab for Functional Biopolymers has its research focus in the area of macromolecular chemistry at the interface between nanotechnology and bioorganic chemistry. The main interest is in the chemical modification of natural biopolymers with the aim to engineer multifunctional and biocompatible materials for applications in drug delivery, nanomedicine, bio-catalysis and 3D printing. It is the goal to produce advanced nanomaterials with the potential to revolutionize personalized medicine and biocatalytic industrial processes.

Nature’s toolbox provides us with a variety of biopolymers, such as carbohydrates, lipids, or polypeptides. Our research group applies a variety of chemistry methods to produce functionalized nanomaterials in order to mimic biological properties, while maintaining biocompatibility and degradability. The resulting dynamic biohybrid materials can be formulated into nano- and microparticles for the transport and delivery of a wide range of therapeutic drugs, including therapeutic proteins, as well as DNA and mRNA.
nanometer scale comparison nanoparticle size comparison nanotechnology chart ruler


Biopolymer Scaffolds

We modify natural biopolymers (sugars, peptides, proteins) to optimize their properties beyond the original functions.

Chemical Modification

The extensive toolkit of bioorganic chemistry provides various possibilites for chemical functionalization.

Nanoparticle Formation

We apply various biotechnological techniques to form micro- and nanoparticles in tunable sizes.

Biological Testing

Cellular functions and the bioactivity of the produced biomaterials are analyzed in-house with in vitro tests.



 Protein-based Nanoparticles: We developed a universal approach for the preparation of a new class of protein-based nanoparticles. A high-density lipophilic surface modification renders the proteins soluble in organic solutions and allows the use of solvent evaporation techniques for the formation of nanoparticles. Unlike previous approaches, we preserve the native structure of the proteins and the particles are stable without de­naturation or crosslinking. This new type of biopolymer-material shows low toxicity at high con­centrations and successfully delivers drugs, for example, chemotherapeutics to cancer cells.

“pH-Responsive Protein Nanoparticles via Conjugation of Degradable PEG to the Surface of Cytochrome c
E. Steiert, J. Ewald, A. Wagner, U. A. Hellmich, H. Frey and P. R. Wich
Polym. Chem., 2020, 11, 551 – 559. (DOI: 10.1039/C9PY01162E)

“Nanoparticle Assembly of Surface-Modified Proteins” M. Fach, L. Radi, P. R. Wich
J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2016, 138 (45), 14820–14823 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b06243)

“Methods of Protein Surface PEGylation under Structure Preservation for the Emulsion-based Formation of Stable Nanoparticles” L. Radi, M. Fach, M. Montigny, E. Berger-Nicoletti, W. Tremel, P. R. Wich
Med. Chem. Commun. 2016, 7, 1738–1744 (DOI: 10.1039/C5MD00475F)

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protein nanoparticles biopolymer Wichlab Peter Wich
 Functional Enzyme Nanoparticles: New generations of our protein and enzyme based nanoparticles are stimuli-responsive and have a triggered payload release. The particles have advanced degradation capabilities and can fully disassemble in acidic conditions. This multifunctional material can, for example, encapsulate large and hydrophilic enzymes, and show improved activity against the gram-positive bacteria strains.

“Protein‐Based Nanoparticles for the Delivery of Enzymes with Antibacterial Activity”
E. Steiert, L. Radi, M. Fach, P. R. Wich
Macromol. Rapid Commun. 201839,1800186 (DOI: 10.1002/marc.201800186)

“pH-Responsive Protein Nanoparticles via Conjugation of Degradable PEG to the Surface of Cytochrome c
E. Steiert, J. Ewald, A. Wagner, U. A. Hellmich, H. Frey and P. R. Wich
Polym. Chem., 2020, 11, 551 – 559. (DOI: 10.1039/C9PY01162E)

more publications >

Lysozyme Nanoparticles with Antibacterial Activity

 Multifunctional Polysaccharide-based Nanoparticles: Our polysaccharide nanoparticle systems utilizes a class of acid-degradable and biocompatible material, that can be formulated into particles using a variety of emulsion-based techniques. Due to their pH-sensitivity, the particles can rapidly release their encapsulated payload under mildly acidic conditions including those found in sites of inflammation, tumor tissue, or endocytic vesicles. Based on our recent promising first in vivo results, we are currently working on the continuing development towards future therapeutic drug delivery applications.

“Receptor-mediated Uptake of Folic Acid-functionalized Dextran Nanoparticles for Applications in Photodynamic Therapy” K. Butzbach, M. Konhäuser, D. N. Bamberger, B. Breitenbach, B. Epe and P. R. Wich
Polymers, 2019, 11, 896. (DOI: 10.3390/polym11050896)

“Dextran-based Therapeutic Nanoparticles for Hepatic Drug Delivery” F. Foerster, D. Bamberger, J. Schupp, M. Weilbächer, L. Kaps, S. Strobl, L. Radi, M. Diken, D. Strand, A. Tuettenberg, P. R. Wich, D. Schuppan
Nanomedicine 2016, 11 (20), 2663–2677. (DOI: 10.2217/nnm-2016-0156)

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polysaccharide nanoparticles biopolymer Wichlab Peter Wich
 Amphiphilic Polysaccharide Block Copolymers: We developed the first stimulus responsive full polysaccharide AB type block copolymer. It is a combination of a linear hydrophilic dextran block with a linear hydrophobic acetalated dextran block. For this we applied an efficient reductive amination strategy to install various useful functionalities at the chain end in a very effective, facile and time saving manner. The end-modified dextrans can be used to create amphiphilic biopolymer-based nanomaterials with stimuli responsiveness that is of value for therapeutic applications, like drug delivery or tissue engineering.

“Double Stimuli-Responsive Polysaccharide Block Copolymers as Green Macrosurfactant for Near-Infrared Photodynamic Therapy”
B. Breitenbach, E. Steiert, M. Konhäuser, L.-M.Vogt, Y. Wang, S. H. Parekh and P. R. Wich
Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 1423–1434. (DOI: 10.1039/C8SM02204F)

“Amphiphilic Polysaccharide Block Copolymers for pH-responsive Micellar Nanoparticles” B. Breitenbach, I. Schmid, P. R. Wich
Biomacromolecules 2017, ASAP. (DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00771)

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Amphiphilic Dextran Polysaccharide Block Copolymer

Summary Wichlab

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