Biopolymeric Coacervate Microvectors for the Delivery of Functional Proteins to Cells

Wenjin Xiao, Agata K Jakimowicz, Ioannis Zampetakis, Sara Neely, Fabrizio L Scarpa, Sean A Davis, David S Williams*, Adam W Perriman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


The extent to which biologic payloads can be effectively delivered to cells is a limiting factor in the development of new therapies. Limitations arise from the lack of pharmacokinetic stability of biologics in vivo. Encapsulating biologics in a protective delivery vector has the potential to improve delivery profile and enhance performance. Coacervate microdroplets have been developed as cell-mimetic materials with established potential for the stabilization of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids. Here, the development of biodegradable coacervate microvectors (comprising synthetically modified amylose polymers) is presented, for the delivery of biologic payloads to cells. Amylose-based coacervate microdroplets are stable under physiological conditions (e.g. temperature and ionic strength), are non-cytotoxic owing to their biopolymeric structure, spontaneously interacted with the cell membrane, and are able to deliver and release proteinaceous payloads beyond the plasma membrane. In particular, myoglobin, an oxygen storage and antioxidant protein, is successfully delivered into human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) within 24 hours. Furthermore, coacervate microvectors are implemented for the delivery of human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) growth factor, inducing differentiation of hMSCs into osteoprogenitor cells. This study demonstrates the potential of coacervate microdroplets as delivery microvectors for biomedical research and the development of new therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2000101
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Healthcare Materials
Issue number11
Early online date9 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2020


  • biologics
  • complex coacervates
  • drug delivery
  • microwectors
  • protein delivery


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