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Tunable, Functional Diblock Copolypeptide Hydrogels Based on Methionine Homologs


The preparation of new diblock copolypeptide hydrogels derived from homologs of l-methionine, that is, l-homomethionine and l-6-(methylthio)-l-norleucine is described. Compared to l-methionine residues, use of l-methionine homologs allow improved copolymerization with l-leucine residues to give well-defined block copolypeptides. These copolypeptides are subsequently modified using robust thioether alkylation reactions employing a variety of functional epoxides, which yield samples capable of forming transparent, self-healing hydrogels in water. The facile variation of different functional epoxides for postpolymerization modification is found to allow predictable functionalization and tuning of hydrogel properties by the modification of simple precursors.

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