As a relatively new class of materials, single-chain polymer nanoparticles (SCNPs) just entered the field of (biomedical) applications, with recent advances in polymer science enabling the formation of bio-inspired nanosized architectures. Exclusive intramolecular collapse of individual polymer chains results in individual nanoparticles. With sizes an order of magnitude smaller than conventional polymer nanoparticles, SCNPs are in the size regime of many proteins and viruses (1–20 nm). Multifaceted syntheses and design strategies give access to a wide set of highly modular SCNP materials. This review describes how SCNPs have been rendered water-soluble and highlights ongoing research efforts towards biocompatible SCNPs with tunable properties for controlled drug delivery, targeted imaging and protein mimicry.
Open Access funded by VSNU