Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) as host materials for the enhanced delivery of biomacromolecular therapeutics

Pei Hong Tong, Ling Zhu, Yi Zang, Jia Li, Xiao Peng He, Tony D. James

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Citations (SciVal)


Biomacromolecular drugs have become an important class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of human diseases. Considering their high propensity for being degraded in the human body, the choice of an appropriate delivery system is key to ensure the therapeutic efficacy of biomacromolecular drugs in vivo. As an emerging class of supramolecular "host"materials, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) exhibit advantages in terms of the tunability of pore size, encapsulation efficiency, controllable drug release, simplicity in surface functionalization and good biocompatibility. As a result, MOF-based host-guest systems have been extensively developed as a new class of flexible and powerful platform for the delivery of therapeutic biomacromolecules. In this review, we summarize current research progress in the synthesis of MOFs as delivery materials for a variety of biomacromolecules. Firstly, we briefly introduce the advances made in the use of biomacromolecular drugs for disease therapy and the types of commonly used clinical delivery systems. We then describe the advantages of using MOFs as delivery materials. Secondly, the strategies for the construction of MOF-encapsulated biomacromolecules (Biomacromolecules@MOFs) and the release mechanisms of the therapeutics are categorized. Thirdly, the application of MOFs to deliver different types of biomacromolecules (e.g., antigens/antibodies, enzymes, therapeutic proteins, DNA/RNA, polypeptides, and polysaccharides) for the treatment of various human diseases based on immunotherapy, gene therapy, starvation therapy and oxidation therapy is summarized. Finally, the remaining challenges and available opportunities for MOFs as drug delivery systems are outlined, which we anticipate will encourage additional research efforts directed towards developing Biomacromolecules@MOFs systems for biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12098-12110
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Communications
Issue number91
Early online date27 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21788102, 91853201), the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project (2018SHZDZX03) and the international cooperation program of Shanghai Science and Technology Committee (17520750100). T. D. J. wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University for support (2020ZD01).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry


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