Herein we explore phospholipid imprinting as a means to design receptors for complex glycolipids comprising the toxic lipopolysaccharide endotoxin. A series of polymerizable bis-imidazolium and urea hosts were evaluated as cationic and neutral hosts for phosphates and phosphonates, the latter used as mimics of the phospholipid head groups. The bis-imidazolium hosts interacted with the guests in a cooperative manner leading to the presence of tight and well defined 1:2 ternary complexes. Optimized monomer combinations were subsequently used for imprinting of phosphatidic acid as an endotoxin dummy template. Presence of the aforementioned ternary complexes during polymerization resulted in imprinting of lipid dimers - the latter believed to crudely mimic the endotoxin Lipid A motif. The polymers were characterized with respect to template rebinding, binding affinity, capacity and common structural properties, leading to the identification of polymers which were thereafter subjected to an industrially validated endotoxin removal test. Two of the polymers were capable of removing endotoxin down to levels well below the accepted threshold (0.005 EU/mg API) in pharmaceutical production.
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