Elastin-like Polypeptides for Drug Delivery

Elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) are genetically engineered repetitive synthetic polypeptides that are composed mainly of tandem pentapeptide repeats. ELPs are chemically similar to natural elastin and have good biocompatibility, no immune reaction in vivo, excellent pharmacokinetic behavior and biodegradability, and can be used as novel drug carriers to extend drug half-life, reduce drug toxicity and increase drug solubility. CD Formulation has provided many targeted drug delivery delivery services to customers around the world. As a result, we are proud to design and deliver efficient services and high quality products to meet the specific requirements of our customers. If you are interested in our services, please feel free to contact us for more details.

Fig. 1 Design of a ELP-based nanocarrier. (Van et al., 2023)Fig. 1 Design of a ELP-based nanocarrier. (Van et al., 2023)

ELPs for Drug Delivery

ELPs are widely used as drug delivery vehicles due to their unique biophysical properties and recombinant DNA approach for design and synthesis. ELPs can be easily fused to therapeutic peptides or proteins at the genetic level and can be site-specifically conjugated using precisely controlled residues along the ELPs chain, providing one or more unique reactive side chains for covalent conjugation. Better characterization of therapeutic drugs can be achieved by optimizing the composition of ELPs sequences and their molecular weight, including improved pharmacokinetics, lower off-target cytotoxicity, higher stability and improved solubility. These factors can improve the half-life and bioavailability of the drug.

Genetic Design of Elastin-like Peptides

The phase transition properties of elastin-like polypeptides depend mainly on the type of guest amino acids and the length of the repetitive polypeptide sequence. The oligonucleotide sequences of the monomeric genes were designed rationally according to the different preferences and simplicity of E. coli codons, and two complementable single-stranded oligonucleotide fragments were synthesized. Different codons were introduced by design to drive co-transport of isoform tRNAs to alleviate the shortage of single tRNA supply and avoid strand mismatches and mutations to effectively improve the expression level of polypeptides.

Design and Modification of Elastin-like Polypeptides

Our researchers were able to synthesize elastin-like peptides enriched with certain amino acids using genetic engineering techniques and E. coli expression systems, and their molecular weights were identified by time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Subsequently, covalent modification of the amino acid sites was carried out to obtain elastin-like peptides with different degrees of modification.

Reasons for Choosing ELPs for Drug Delivery

  • ELPs are malleable and easy to regulate

The composition, molecular weight and dispersion of ELPs can be precisely controlled by sequence design and gene editing.

  • ELPs are economical and easy to produce and prepare

ELPs fusion proteins are highly expressed, and the protein purification method is simple and does not require complex and expensive chromatographic purification equipment, making the production process simple and low cost.

  • High biosafety of ELPs

ELPs are non-toxic, biodegradable, and biocompatible, making them safe and reliable for use as drug delivery materials.

  • ELPs are stimulus-responsive

ELPs have special temperature responsiveness, which can control the release and targeting of drugs in time or space according to the characteristics of different drugs and therapeutic needs, and customize more responsive ELPs coupled with drugs.

  • High potential for ELPs mining

Based on DNA recombination technology, ELPs sequences can be freely added with other reactive amino acids or active proteins to give ELPs new structures and functions.

ELPs as a class of drug delivery systems can help customers in the development of drug formulation projects. If you are interested in our elastin-like polypeptides for drug delivery, please feel free to contact us and our researchers will customize the best fit for your project.


  1. Van Strien, J., et al. (2023) Elastin-like polypeptide-based micelles as a promising platform in nanomedicine. Journal of Controlled Release, 353, 713-726.
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