Rotaxanes as peptide carriers
Based on the concept of covalent capture of supramolecular assemblies, the idea of mechanical encapsulation is exploited for the protection and delivery of peptidebased molecules. This thesis aims to establish a general method for the encapsulation of peptides within a rotaxane structure, as well as studying their mode of release under specific stimuli. The synthesis of such structures, relying on the elongation of short peptidorotaxanes, is applied to the design of rotaxane peptide carriers whose function is to protect against biological degradation and release peptides under a biological stimulus. These molecules are composed of a rotaxane-encapsulated peptide bearing a biodegradable stopper, the enzyme-specific cleavage of which triggers peptide release, via ‘dethreading’. The synthesis and in vitro assessment of rotaxane carriers as agents for anti-cancer therapy will be described in detail. The future challenges and potential applications of the proposed systems will be addressed.