WARF: P06005US

Methods of Manufacturing and Using Beta-Peptide Lyotropic Liquid Crystals


Samuel Gellman, Nicholas Abbott, William Pomerantz

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing liquid crystals based on beta-peptide scaffolds.
OVERVIEWLiquid crystals have been widely explored for applications such as display and sensing technologies. Lyotropic liquid crystals, which become more ordered as they become more concentrated within a solvent, are particularly useful for detecting the presence of biological targets, including proteins, viruses and microbes. Some alpha-peptides have been used to form lyotropic liquid crystals, but these peptides must be quite long, which limits their use.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed liquid crystals based on relatively short beta-peptide scaffolds that can be tailored to have unique properties for use in biological assays. Beta-peptides differ from conventional peptides in that certain beta-peptides form stable helices at short, oligomeric lengths, giving rise to robust, asymmetric structures. These helical beta-peptides can self-assemble to form lyotropic liquid crystals in aqueous environments.

To give the liquid crystals more desirable properties, a variety of functional groups can be added to the beta-peptides. The liquid crystals can then be used, for example, to detect an analyte, such as a protein, in a biological sample.
  • Detection of proteins, cells or viruses
  • Modular synthesis of beta-peptides allows control over the location of functionalized side chains, including ionic groups that confer aqueous solubility and aromatic groups that influence liquid crystal properties.
  • Oligomers of beta-amino acids may incorporate chemical groups and/or small molecules to further functionalize the resulting liquid crystal.
  • Beta-peptides can be tailored to have specific viscosity and birefringence, important qualities for liquid crystals.
  • Beta-peptides are resistant to proteolysis and generally non-toxic to cells, making them useful for biological applications, such as biomolecular sensing of proteins, cells or viruses in biological samples.
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Rafael Diaz at or 608-960-9847.
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