The past decades have seen significant research effort in the field of polymers for a range of biomedical applications, driven by the promising prospect of these materials for realizing next generation therapeutics in the clinic. In this regard, it is widely accepted that polymer properties such as chemistry, charge, and block composition, as well as properties of their self-assemblies including size, shape, surface chemistry, and biodegradation, all influence and direct their interactions with cells and biological membranes. In particular, polymer hydrophobicity is a property of interest, with growing evidence demonstrating the significant impact that hydrophobic interactions with lipid membranes and proteins can have on biomaterial application efficacy within the body. However, to date, this phenomenon has been relatively underexplored, and therefore there exists no clear universal understanding to direct polymer design. In this Perspective, we highlight important contributions to this field, focusing on seminal studies which investigate experimentally and theoretically how incorporation of hydrophobic moieties within polymer systems can influence their ultimate properties when used in biomedical applications. In this way, we aim to signify future directions in the design of highly performing polymers for biomedicine, making a case for the importance of standardized computational modeling to achieve widely applicable conclusions and facilitate future translational efforts.
- polymeric materials