Molecular imprinting is a technique for the synthesis of polymers capable to bind selectively specific molecules. The imprinting of large proteins, like cell adhesion proteins or cell receptors, can lead to important and innovative biomedical applications. However such molecules show such important conformational changes in the polymerisation environment that the recognition sites are poorly specific. The “epitope approach” can overcome this limit by adopting, as template, a stable short peptide sequence representative of an accessible fragment of a larger protein. The resulting imprinted polymer can recognize both the template and the whole molecule thanks to the specific cavities for the epitope. In this work two molecularly imprinted polymer formulations (macroporous monolith and nanospheres) were obtained with the protected peptides Z-Thr-Ala-Ala-OMe, as template, and Z-Thr-Ile-Leu-OMe, as analogue for the selectivity evaluation, the methacrylic acid, as functional monomer, the trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate and pentaerythritol triacrylate, as cross-linkers. Polymers were synthesized by precipitation polymerisation in acetonitrile at 60 °C, thermally initiated with azobisisobutyronitrile. All polymers were characterized by the standard techniques SEM, FT-IR, and TGA. The supernatants from the polymerisation and the rebinding solutions were analysed by HPLC. The higher cross-linked polymers retained about the 70% of the template, against about the 20% for the lower ones. The extracted template amount and the rebinding capacity decreased with the cross-linking degree, while the selectivity showed the opposite behaviour. The pentaerythritol triacrylate cross-linked polymers showed the best recognition (MIP 2−, α = 1.71) and selectivity (MIP 2+, α′ = 5.58) capabilities.

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