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Michel Vert

Michel Vert

Professor emerite, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Montpellier

Michel Vert, formally at INSA Rouen, founded the laboratory in 1991 and led it as director until he retired in 2007. He remains member of the department as Emeritus CNRS Research Director. His main fields of interest are: – optically active polymers, – multifunctional polyelectrolytes, -polymers of therapeutic interest, – macromolecular drugs and prodrugs, -degradable and bioresorbable polymers, – smart polymeric systems. He authored or co-authored more than 400 major scientific contributions (articles, book chapters, patents, etc…). He contributed to the creation of three companies, two as co-founder. Two stopped after many years of activity. One, MedinCell, is still alive. He is presently member of the IUPAC Sub-Committee for Polymer Terminology. He was awarded a CNRS Silver Medal, a “Jungfleish” Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences and a Grand Prix Georges Winter of the European Society for Biomaterials.



5 recent publications:


Hyaluronic Acid-Poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) Copolymers as Sources of Degradable Thermoresponsive Hydrogels for Therapy

Gels 2020, 6(4), 42

Mahfoud Boustta and Michel Vert



One-pot free-radical polymerization of N-acryloyl glycinamide in the presence of hyaluronic acid as transfer-termination agent led to new copolymers in high yields without any chemical activation of hyaluronic acid before. All the copolymers formed thermoresponsive hydrogels of the Upper Critical Solution Temperature-type in aqueous media. Gel properties and the temperature of the reversible gel ↔ sol transition depended on feed composition and copolymer concentration. Comparison with mixtures of hyaluronic acid-poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) failed in showing the expected formation of graft copolymers conclusively because poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) homopolymers are also thermoresponsive. Grafting and formation of comb-like copolymers were proved after degradation of inter-graft hyaluronic acid segments by hyaluronidase. Enzymatic degradation yielded poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) with sugar residues end groups as shown by NMR. In agreement with the radical transfer mechanism, the molar mass of these released poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) grafts depended on the feed composition. The higher the proportion of hyaluronic acid in the feed, the lower the molar mass of poly(N-acryloyl glycinamide) grafts was. Whether molar mass can be made low enough to allow kidney filtration remains to be proved in vivo. Last but not least, Prednisolone was used as model drug to show the ability of the new enzymatically degradable hydrogels to sustain progressive delivery for rather long periods of time in vitro.DPF is a safe film that is effective in preventing IUA formation after intrauterine curettage in rats.

Engineered nanomaterials and human health: Part 1. Preparation, functionalization and characterization (IUPAC Technical Report).

Pure Appl. Chem. 90, 1283–1324 (2018)

Gubala, V., Johnston, L. J., Liu, Z., Krug, H., Moore, C. J., Ober, C. K., Schwenk, M. & Vert, M.


Nanotechnology is a rapidly evolving field, as evidenced by the large number of publications on the synthesis, characterization, and biological/environmental effects of new nano-sized materials. The unique, size-dependent properties of nanomaterials have been exploited in a diverse range of applications and in many examples of nano-enabled consumer products. In this account we focus on Engineered Nanomaterials (ENM), a class of deliberately designed and constructed nano-sized materials. Due to the large volume of publications, we separated the preparation and characterisation of ENM from applications and toxicity into two interconnected documents. Part 1 summarizes nanomaterial terminology and provides an overview of the best practices for their preparation, surface functionalization, and analytical characterization. Part 2 (this issue, Pure Appl. Chem. 2018; 90(8): 1325–1356) focuses on ENM that are used in products that are expected to come in close contact with consumers. It reviews nanomaterials used in therapeutics, diagnostics, and consumer goods and summarizes current nanotoxicology challenges and the current state of nanomaterial regulation, providing insight on the growing public debate on whether the environmental and social costs of nanotechnology outweigh its potential benefits.

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Prebiotic macromolecules and today’s biomacromolecules in the light of polymerology

Eur. Polym. J. 100, 25–36 (2018)

Vert, M.


The appearance of life and thus of biomacromolecules on Earth is related to the presence of small organic molecules, polymerized under prebiotic environmental conditions. However, none of proteins, polynucleotides or polysaccharides taken individually is a true biomacromolecule, because biomacromolecules result from mutual involvements in complex biological processes. Logically, the biomacromolecules involved in the first living cells were first macromolecules formed under early Earth environmental conditions. The appearance of such living cells required macromolecules with fundamental features like controlled synthesis and structures, compatibility with aqueous media, chirality, memory, replication, and recycling that had to respect corresponding fundamentals of polymer science referred to as polymerology. After a recall of relevant basics of chemical reactions, the prebiotic appearance of macromolecules is critically compared with today’s polymer science including chirality, stability, degradation, and recycling. Instead of providing arguments in favor of consistent routes to the first biomacromolecules, the reference to polymerology emphasizes obstacles that complement those occasionally found in the origin of life literature. In front of this conclusion, the discussion is extended to the other ends of these routes, i.e. today’s biomacromolecules. The comparison with polymerology emphasizes the pertinence of the natural choices that led to the outstanding smartness of biomacromolecules. Polymerology is still in its cradle after less than a century of existence. For the future, it is suggested to pay increasing attention to chiral, multimeric multifunctional macromolecules to enrich the population of smart polymers, to solve the problem of plastic pollution, and, maybe, to enlighten the mystery of biomacromolecules emergence under unfavorable conditions.

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Engineered nanomaterials and human health: Part 2. Applications and nanotoxicology (IUPAC Technical Report)

Pure Appl. Chem. 90, 1325–1356 (2018)

Gubala, V., Johnston, L. J., Krug, H. F., Moore, C. J., Ober, C. K., Schwenk, M. & Vert, M.



Research on engineered nanomaterials (ENM) has progressed rapidly from the very early stages of studying their unique, size-dependent physicochemical properties and commercial exploration to the development of products that influence our everyday lives. We have previously reviewed various methods for synthesis, surface functionalization, and analytical characterization of ENM in a publication titled ‘Engineered Nanomaterials: Preparation, Functionalization and Characterization’. In this second, inter-linked document, we first provide an overview of important applications of ENM in products relevant to human healthcare and consumer goods, such as food, textiles, and cosmetics. We then highlight the challenges for the design and development of new ENM for bio-applications, particularly in the rapidly developing nanomedicine sector. The second part of this document is dedicated to nanotoxicology studies of ENM in consumer products. We describe the various biological targets where toxicity may occur, summarize the four nanotoxicology principles, and discuss the need for careful consideration of the biodistribution, degradation, and elimination routes of nanosized materials before they can be safely used. Finally, we review expert opinions on the risk, regulation, and ethical aspects of using engineered nanomaterials in applications that may have direct or indirect impact on human health or our environment.

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