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Title:
HYDROPHILIC ARTICLE AND METHOD OF PRODUCING SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1988/005688
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Matrix comprising molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer which provides solely on the surface of the matrix sufficient uncharged substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic. The invention also provides an article of manufacture comprising the matrix. Another aspect of the invention provides a method of producing a matrix having a hydrophilic surface which comprises treating molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer so as to derivatize a portion of the nitrile groups of the polymer and provide solely on the surface of the matrix sufficient uncharged, hydrophilic substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic. Another embodiment of the invention concerns improved methods of filtration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, dialysis, pervaporation, sieving, affinity chromatography, affinity purification, affinity separation, or affinity adsorption which comprises using the article of manufacture.

Inventors:
Hodgins, Leonard T.
Samuelsen, Edgar
Application Number:
PCT/US1988/000261
Publication Date:
August 11, 1988
Filing Date:
January 28, 1988
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MEMBREX, INC.
International Classes:
B01D15/08; B01D67/00; B01D69/02; B01D71/42; B01D71/56; B01D71/78; B01J20/281; B01J20/285; B01J20/32; C08J9/40; D06M13/02; D06M13/188; D06M13/244; D06M13/248; D06M13/256; D06M13/262; D06M13/322; D06M13/402; D06M13/41; D06M13/412; D06M14/10; G01N30/88; G01N33/543; G01N33/545; D06M101/00; D06M101/16; D06M101/18; (IPC1-7): B01D13/00
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Claims:
What is claimed is:
1. A matrix comprising molecules of a nitrilecon¬ taining polymer which provides solely on the sur¬ face of the matrix sufficient uncharged, substi¬ tuted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic.
2. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the polymer is a homopolymer.
3. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the polymer is a copolymer.
4. A matrix of claim 3, wherein the uncharged, sub¬ stituted amide groups are attached to less than all the monomers of the Copolymer.
5. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the polymer is blend¬ ed with other polymers.
6. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the polymer is graft¬ ed to another polymer.
7. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the hydrophilic sur¬ face has a contact angle of less than about 30 degrees when measured in a pH between 2 and 12.
8. A matrix of claim 7, wherein the hydrophilic sur¬ face has a contact angle less than about 15 de¬ grees.
9. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the substituted amide groups are derived from nitrile groups of the nitrilecontaining polymer.
10. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the substituted amide groups are grafted to the polymer or attached to monomers which are grafted to the polymer.
11. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the polymer comprises an acrylonitriletype monomer.
12. A matrix of claim 11, wherein the acrylonitrile type monomer is acrylonitrile or methacryloni¬ trile.
13. A matrix of claim 1, wherein the substituted amide groups comprises Nmethylolamide groups.
14. A matrix of claim 13, wherein the Nmethylolamide groups are derived from nitrile groups of the nitrilecontaining polymer.
15. A matrix of claim 13, wherein the Nmethylolamide groups are grafted to the polymer or attached to monomers which are grafted to the polymer.
16. The matrix of claim 1 further comprising a plural¬ ity of ligands attached to a portion of the sub¬ stituted amide groups.
17. A matrix of claim 16, wherein each of the ligands comprises a bioselective affinity group.
18. A matrix of claim 17, wherein the bioselective, affinity group comprises a nucleic acid, polynuclotide, monosaccharide, polysaccharide, lipid, amino acid, peptide, protein, hormone, vitamin, metabolic cofactor, drug, antibiotic or a combination thereof.
19. A matrix of claim 17, wherein each of the ligands comprise a coupling molecule disposed between the substituted amide group and the bioselective affinity group.
20. The matrix of claim 1, wherein molecules of the polymer are crosslinked to other such molecules.
21. A matrix of claim 20, wherein the substituted amide groups are Nmethylolamide groups and where¬ in the crosslinking is by means of a methyLene bisamide.
22. An article of manufacture comprising the matrix of claim 1.
23. An article of claim 22, wherein at least a" portion of the exterior of the article comprises the hydrophilic surface of the matrix.
24. An article of claim 22, wherein the hydrophilic surface of the matrix defines pores.
25. An article of claim 24, wherein the article is porous.
26. An article of claim 25, wherein the article is a filter, membrane, bead, nonspherical particle, hollow fiber, solid fiber, rod, fabric, screen or separation medium.
27. An article of claim 22, wherein the article is a porous membrane, the polymer comprises acryloni¬ trile or methacrylonitrile, and the substituted amide groups are Nmethylolamide groups.
28. An article of claim 27, wherein the molecules of the polymer are crosslinked to other such mole¬ cules.
29. An article of claim 22, wherein the article is nonporous.
30. An article of claim 29, wherein the article is a bead, nonspherical particle, hollow fiber, solid fiber, rod, sheet, or separation medium.
31. An article of claim 29, wherein the polymer com¬ prises acrylonitrile or methacrylonitrile and the substituted amide groups are Nmethylolamide.
32. An article of claim 31, wherein the molecules of the polymer are crosslinked to other such mole¬ cules.
33. A method of producing a matrix having a hydro¬ philic surface which comprises treating molecules of a nitrilecontaining polymer so as to provide solely on the surface of the matrix sufficient uncharged substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic.
34. A method of claim 33, wherein the treating com¬ prises contacting the molecules of the polymer with an aldehyde or an aldehydegenerating com¬ pound.
35. An method of claim 34, wherein the polymer is contacted with formaldehyde.
36. A method of claim 34, wherein the aldehydegener¬ ating compound comprises dimethoxymethane, trioxane, or paraformaldehyde.
37. A method of claim 34, wherein contacting with the aldehyde or aldehydegenerating compound is car¬ ried out in the presence of a catalyst.
38. A method of claim 37, wherein the catalyst com¬ prises an acid or an acidgenerating substance.
39. A method of claim 38, wherein the catalyst com¬ prises a blend of acids.
40. A method of claim 39, wherein the blend of acids comprises a strong acid and a weak acid.
41. A method of claim 40, wherein the degree of hydrophilicity of the hydrophilic surface is con¬ trolled by the ratio of concentrations of the strong acid, the weak acid and the aldehyde or aldehydegenerating compound.
42. A method of claim 38, wherein acid or acidgener¬ ating substance is acetic acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid, an alkylsulfuric acid, an alkylsulfonic acid, a halosulfonic acid, boron trifluoride, or aluminum chloride.
43. A method of claim 42, wherein the acid or acid generating substance is acetic acid, sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid.
44. The method of claim 38, wherein the rate of pro¬ ducing the matrix is controlled by controlling the strength or concentration of the acid or acid generating substance.
45. A method of claim 33, wherein the matrix is pro¬ duced in the form of a porous article.
46. A method of claim 45, wherein the porous article is a membrane.
47. A method of claim 33, wherein the matrix is pro¬ duced in the form of a nonporous article.
48. A method of claim 33, wherein the substituted amide groups comprises Nmethylolamide groups.
49. The method of claim 33, which further comprises contacting the hydrophilic surface with reagents capable of donating a plurality of ligands so as to attach the ligands to a portion of the substi¬ tuted amide groups.
50. A method of claim 49, wherein each of the ligands is a bioselective, affinity group and comprises a nucleic acid, polynuclotide, monosaccharide, polysaccharide, lipid, amino acid, peptide, pro¬ tein, hormone, vitamin, metabolic cofactor, drug, antibiotic, or a combination thereof.
51. The method of claim 33, wherein the substituted amide groups of some of the polymer molecules on the hydrophilic surface of the matrix are cross linked to substituted amide groups of other poly¬ mer molecules on the hydrophilic surface of the matrix.
52. A method of claim 34, wherein the contacting is effected by soaking the polymer in a reagent bath containing the aldehyde or the aldehydegenerating compound.
53. A method of claim 52, wherein the polymer is con¬ tacted with a formaldehydegenerating compound, the contacting is effected in the presence of an acid, the polymer comprises an acrylonitriletype monomer and the substituted amide groups are N methylolamide groups.
54. A method of claim 53, wherein the matrix is pro¬ duced in the form of a porous article, the hydro¬ philic surface of the matrix defines pores, the soaking is for several minutes to about 24 hours, and the temperature of the "reagent bath is in a range from about 10°C to about 60°C.
55. A matrix produced by the method of claim 33.
56. In the methods of filtration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, dialysis, per¬ vaporation, or sieving, the improvement which comprises using the article of claim 22.
57. In the methods of affinity chromatography, affini¬ ty purification, affinity separation, or affinity adsorption, the improvement which comprises using the article of claim 22.
58. A modified article of manufacture comprising an article and the matrix of claim 1, the matrix covering at least a portion of the exterior of the article.
59. A modified article of claim 58, wherein at least a portion of the exterior of the modified article comprises the hydrophilic surface of the matrix.
60. A modified article of claim 59, wherein the arti¬ cle is a membrane, the polymer comprises an acry¬ lonitriletype monomer, and the substituted amide groups are Nmethylolamide groups.
61. A method of producing a modified article which comprises forming an article in which at least a portion of the exterior of the article comprises molecules of a nitrilecontaining polymer and treating the article so formed so as to provide solely on the exterior of the article sufficient uncharged substituted amide groups to render the exterior hydrophilic.
62. A method of claim 61, wherein treating comprises contacting the article with an aldehyde or alde¬ hydegenerating compound.
63. A method of claim 62, wherein contacting with the aldehyde or aldehydegenerating compound is car¬ ried out in the presence of a catalyst.
64. A method of claim .63, wherein the catalyst com¬ prises an acid or acidgenerating substance or a blend of acids.
65. The method of claim 61 which further comprises contacting the hydrophilic exterior with reagents capable of donating a plurality of ligands so as to attach the ligands to a portion of the substi¬ tuted amide groups.
66. A modified article produced by the method of claim 61.
67. In the methods of filtration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, reverse osmosis, dialysis, per¬ vaporation, or sieving, the improvement which comprises using the modified article of claim 58.
68. In the methods of affinity chromatography, affini¬ ty purification, affinity separation, or affinity adsorption, the improvement which comprises using the modified article of claim 58.
Description:
-1- HYDROPHILIC ARTICLE AND METHOD OF PRODUCING SAME

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Throughout this application various patents and publi¬ cations are referenced and citations are provided in parentheses. The disclosure of these patents and pub¬ lications in their entireties are hereby incorporated by reference into this application in order to more fully describe the state of the art to which this in¬ vention pertains.

Filters, membranes, beads, and other porous and nonporous articles are widely used for separating and concentrating substances present in liquid environ¬ ments. For example, filters and membranes have utility in applications involving reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, pervaporation and dialysis. In general such applications rely upon pressure to effect separation or concentration. There¬ fore, it is important that the filter or membrane mate¬ rial maintains its physical integrity and desired properties under pressure.

It is well-known that polymers are useful raw materials for the production of filters, membranes, and other separation and chromatography media. Typically, the polymers useful for the fabrication of rigid porous articles tend not to be dissolved by, or swell in, water and are commonly referred to as being hydropho- bic in nature, i.e., acrylonitrile polymers or copoly- mers. Unfortunately, the polymeric qualities which render crystallinity and physical strength to the formed porous articles also cause adsorptive interac¬ tions during separation or concentration work. As a

consequence, the porous article becomes fouled by ma¬ terials in the feed stream to be separated or concen¬ trated. Such fouling is a major problem because the formation of a fouling layer upon the porous article's surface interferes with the article's efficiencies and specificities thereby necessitating frequent and cost¬ ly cleaning treatments. Other types of polymeric com¬ positions which tend not to exhibit adsorptive interac¬ tions during separation work also tend to lack the necessary physical strength for pressure driven sepa¬ rations. These compositions are pressure sensitive and can be readily compressed and distorted by applied pressure. Agarose and polyacrylamide are examples of such compositions and are described as hydrated gels because throughout their structures they are hydrophilic in nature, i.e. interacting with water and swelling thereby.

Attempts have been made to overcome the disadvantages of hydrophobic-type polymeric compositions by chemical¬ ly modifying the surface of formed porous articles. Linder et al., U.S. Patent Nos. 4,584 ,103 (1986) and 4,477,634 (1984), describe methods of increasing the pressure stability of a polyacrylonitrile-containing membrane by reaction with hydroxylamine followed by additional steps including reaction with a poly-func¬ tional oligomer and a compound containing at least one ionic group. A disadvantage of this method, however, is that the resulting modified membranes contain charged groups, thereby making them unsuitable for some applications. Additionally, the methods suffer from defects such as the need for expensive reagents and poor control over the extent of modification.

Sano et al., U.S. Patent No. 4,265,959 (1981), de¬ scribes a method for the preparation of semipermeable membranes which comprises sulfonating porous membranes of acrylonitrile polymers. In the disclosed method, a porous membrane is exposed to a gasous sulfonating agent, i.e. sulf ric anhydride, under pressure. The resulting modified membrane is claimed to possess supe¬ rior chemical, mechanical and thermal properties due to cross-linking of its surface molecules and its in¬ creased hydrophilic character. However, the Sano et al. method suffers from similar defects as described above; that is, the need for expensive reagents and poor control over the extent of modification. In fact, the disclosure notes that if the whole membrane is sulfonated it becomes brittle.

In Sano et al., U.S. Patent No. 4,147,745 (1979), a surface-modifying method is disclosed which comprises exposing a membrane of acrylonitrile-type polymers to a plasma. The resulting membrane is claimed to have a surface whose polymer molecules are cross-linked there¬ by increasing its physical strength. Nakanishi, U.S. Patent No. 4,501,785 (1985) relates to a method of hydrophilizing a porous membrane made of a polyolefin, i.e. polyethylene, by coating the surfaces which de¬ fine the pores with polyethylene glycol. These methods also involve expensive procedures and the Nakanishi method, additionally, is limited to membranes whose pores can accommodate the polyethylene glycol molecule.

The subject invention provides membranes and other porous articles having superior physical integrity to withstand pressure driven separations and hydrophilic surfaces to prevent fouling. The procedures of the present invention comprises a chemical reaction between

nitrile groups of hydrophobic-type polymer and an alde¬ hyde to produce hydrophilic amide groups only on the surface of a formed article. The fundamental chemistry of this reaction is well-known in the art (see e.g., Magat, E.E., et al. , J. Am. Chem. Soc, 1951, 7_3: 1028- 1037; Mowry, D.T., U.S. Patent No. 2,534,204 [1950]). Mowry, British Patent No. 677,516 (1948) describe a method utilizing this chemical reaction for the syn¬ thesis of "nylon" type polymers. However, the Mowry method produces polymers having the resulting amide groups as part of the polymer backbone and, therefore, articles formed from these polymers have the amide groups throughout their structures. In contrast, the present invention provides a method of reacting the nitrile groups pendent to the polymer backbone in pre¬ formed articles. Additionally, the inventive method enables one to control the reaction rate so that only the surface of the article contains amide groups there¬ by providing fouling resistance to the surface while maintaining the physical strength of the article.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides a matrix comprising molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer which provides solely on the surface of the matrix sufficient uncharged sub¬ stituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic. The invention also provides an article of manufacture comprising the matrix.

Another aspect of the invention provides a method of producing a matrix having a hydrophilic surface which comprises treating molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer so as to derivatize a portion of the nitrile groups of the polymer and provide solely on the surface of the matrix sufficient uncharged, hydrophilic substi¬ tuted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic.

Another embodiment of the invention concerns improved methods of filtration, ultrafiltration, microfiltra¬ tion, reverse osmosis, dialysis, pervaporation, siev¬ ing, affinity chromatography, affinity purification or affinity separation which comprises using the article of manufacture.

Another embodiment of the invention is a modified arti¬ cle of manufacture comprising a preformed article and the matrix described above, wherein the matrix covers at least a portion of the exterior of the preformed article. The invention also involves a method of pro¬ ducing the modified article which comprises forming an article in which at least a portion of the exterior of the article comprises molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer and treating the article so formed so as to derivatize a portion of the nitrile groups of the poly¬ mer and provide solely on the exterior of the article

sufficient uncharged, hydrophilic substituted amide groups to render the exterior hydrophilic.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Figure 1 - illustrates the solid-liquid contact angle for a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides a matrix comprising molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer which provides solely on the surface of the matrix, sufficient uncharged, substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic.

The nitrile-containing polymer may be a homopolymer or a copolymer. In copolymers only one monomer need con¬ tain nitrile groups. The other monomers may, but need not, contain nitriles groups. Suitable monomers which may be present with the nitrile-containing monomer in a copolymer are monomers capable of polymerizing with the nitrile-containing monomer. Examples of such mono¬ mers include styrene-type monomers, such as styrene, methylstyrene, ethylstyrene, nitrostyrene, chlorostyrene, bromostyrene, chloromethylstryene; acrylic or methacrylic acid ester-type monomers; con¬ jugated dienes; halogenated olefins; vinylether mono¬ mers and like monomers. The polymerization may be performed by standard techniques in the art, such as suspension polymerization or emulsion polymerization in an aqueous system. The polymer may also be blended with other polymers which may or may not contain nitrile or substituted amide groups. The polymer can also be grafted to another polymer.

The matrix may comprise molecules of essentially any polymer containing nitrile groups as pendant groups attached to the polymeric backbone. Merely by way of example, suitable polymers include polymers containing acrylonitrile-type monomers, cyano-styrene monomers, pentenenitrile monomers, butenenitrile monomers or cyanoethylester acrylic acid monomers. The presently

preferred polymers contain acrylonitrile-type monomers, such as acrylonitrile, ethacrylonitrile, chloroacry- lonitrile, fluoroacrylσnitrile and cinnamnitrile, par¬ ticularly acrylonitrile or methacrylonitrile.

Suitable substituted amide groups are groups which are hydrophilic, that is showing an affinity to water. These amide groups may be obtained by derivatization of the nitrile groups of the polymer or they may be "pre¬ fabricated" and then deposited or grafted directly onto the polymer at the surface of the matrix. It is like¬ wise possible that one can deposit nitrile groups on the surface of the matrix and then derivatize all or a portion of the nitrile groups to the substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic. Likewise, monomers containing the appropriate nitrile or amide groups may be deposited or grafted onto the surface of the matrix.

The acyl portion of the amide groups may comprise an alkyl group or an aryl group depending on the structure of the nitrile groups prior to derivatization. The a ino portion of the amide groups may be mono- or di- substituted or unsubstituted. In the presently pre¬ ferred embodiment, the amide groups are predominately mono- and di-substituted groups. The substituted por¬ tion may comprise an alkyl group or an aryl group. Presently, alkyl groups are preferred, particularly methylol groups. In the most preferred embodiments, the substituted amide groups are N-methylolamides.

The surface of a polymer matrix has voids formed by imperfections in the outer perimeter of the matrix and micropores formed by the molecular structure of the matrix. The term "surface" is intended to include the

polymers or portions thereof which define these voids and micropores. If the matrix is in the form of a porous article, "surface" is also intended to include the polymers or portions thereof which define the pores of the article.

It is anticipated that small amounts of substituted amide groups may be present in areas of the matrix other than the surface. However, the invention pro¬ vides that only the surface of the matrix will have sufficient substituted amide groups to render the sur¬ face hydrophilic. The other areas of the matrix will not contain sufficient amide groups to render those areas hydrophilic.

The substituted amide groups are uncharged at neutral or near-neutral pH's. Of course, it is possible to induce a charge on the substituted amide groups by changing the surrounding environment. Such a variation is not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention and all such modifications as would be obvious to one skilled in the art are in¬ tended to be included herein.

The matrix may also comprise a plurality of ligands attached to a portion of the hydrophilic substituted amide groups or derivatives thereof. Suitable ligands include any ligand capable of attaching to the substi¬ tuted amide groups of the matrix or to a derivative of the substituted amide group. Presently, preferred ligands comprise bio-selective, affinity groups which selectively bind to biologically active substances and are typically used for the purification of biological¬ ly active substances. The inventory of useful affinity ligands is large and rapidly increasing. Most often,

such ligands are derived from nature (i.e., biological originating substances) ; while, others are wholly or partially synthetic (i.e., bio-mimic substances). Many ligands can be described by traditional biochemical classes such as nucleotides, polynucleotides, nucleic acids (including DNA and RNA) , carbohydrates, saccharides, polysaccharides, lipids, a ino acids, peptides and proteins. Others can be described as combinations of these substances as lipo- polysaccharides, lipo-proteins, and nucleo-proteins. In addition, sub-class terms are often useful (e.g., enzymes and antibodies as sub-classes of proteins) . Many other useful affinity ligands are better described by bio-function, such as steroids, hormones, vitamins, enzyme or metabolic co-factors, enzyme inhibitors, enzyme reactors, drugs, drug receptors, antibiotics, neurotrans ittors, antagonists, etc. Still " other ligands are described as chromophores, dyes, ion-ex¬ changers, a phiphiles, and the like.

The ligand may, but need not, also comprise a coupling molecule which is disposed between the substituted amide group or derivative thereof and the bio-selec¬ tive functional portion of the ligand when the ligand is attached to the matrix. Numerous coupling molecules are well known and may be utilized by the present in¬ vention for attaching affinity ligands. Noteworthy reagents for this purpose are cyanogen halides, triazinyl halides (e.g., trihalo-s-triazine and substi¬ tuted halo-s-triazines) , sulfonyl halides (e.g., alkyl and/or aryl sulfonyl-halides, including bis-sulfonyl halides), acyl halides (e.g., bis-acyl-halides) , vinylsulfones, epoxides (e.g., bis-oxiranes) and the like. Alternatively, the present invention can utilize displacement reagents for coupling ligands. Such re-

agents are reacted with surface groups of the present invention and subsequently undergo displacement reac¬ tion with the affinity ligand of choice. Illustration of the reaction sequence is provided by use of sulfonyl halides such as aryl-sulfonyl halides (e.g., tosyl- halides) , alkyl-sulfonyl halides (e.g., methane sulfonyl halide) , halo-alkyl-sulfonyl halides (e.g., trifluoroethane sulfonyl halides) , halopyrimidines (e.g., 2-fluoro-l-methylpyridinium toluene-4-sulfonate) and the like. Other preferred ligands and methods for attaching the ligands to the matrix of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art of affinity sorption and enzyme immobilization from a consideration of the specification of the present ap¬ plication. Such variations are intended to be included herein.

In some embodiments of the invention, a portion of the molecules of the nitrile-containing polymer are cross- linked to other such molecules. Crosslinking provides properties in the matrix which in most applications are desirable, e.g. increased structural rigidity and in¬ creased resistance to organic solvents. Preferably, the crosslinking is between substituted amide groups. In embodiments where the substituted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups, the crosslinking is thought to be by means of methylene-bis-a ide.

Another aspect of the invention provides an article of manufacture which comprises the matrix. Preferably, at least a portion of the exterior of the article com¬ prises the hydrophilic surface of the matrix. The article may be porous or nonporous. If the article is a porous article, the "exterior" is intended to include the boundaries which defined the pores. Accordingly,

in embodiments where the article is a porous article, it is preferred that the boundaries which define pores comprises the hydrophilic surface of the matrix. Fil¬ ters, membranes, screens, beads (porous and nonporous) , hollow and solid filaments and fibers, fabrics, chro otography and separation media, and like articles are the preferred articles of manufacture.

Presently, the most preferred embodiment of the inven¬ tion is a porous article comprising a matrix wherein the nitrile-containing polymer comprises acrylonitrile or methacrylonitrile and the hydrophilic substituted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups. The mole¬ cules of the polymer may also be crosslinked to other such polymer molecules in the matrix.

The invention also provides a method of producing a matrix having a hydrophilic surface which comprises treating molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer so as to derivatize a portion of the nitrile groups of the polymer and provide solely on the surface of the ma¬ trix sufficient uncharged substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic. A portion of the nitrile groups includes a fraction of the nitrile groups or all the nitrile groups present on the surface of the matrix.

Hydrophilicity of a solid surface relates to the surface's affinity toward aqueous solutions. For mem¬ branes and other porous articles, hydrophilicity pro¬ vides a means of measuring an article's biocompatibility, i.e. its ability to be used effec¬ tively with proteins and similar substances without encountering problems of fouling. Although hydrophilicity is not quantitatively defined in the

-13 -

industry, it can be qualitatively measured by water spreading over the solid surface or by the angle (<9) of contact between the liquid surface and the solid sur¬ face when a drop of liquid is resting on the solid surface (see Figure 1) .

The present invention provides matrixes having surfaces whose hydrophilicity can be preselected by controlling reaction rates, reagent concentrations, catalyst con¬ centration, etc. and whose hydrophilicity ranges from nearly that of the untreated nitrile-containing polymer to hyperhydrophilic (e.g. contact angles below about 15 degrees) . In the preferred embodiments, the hydrophilic surface has a contact angle less than about 30 degrees when measured in a pH between 2 and 12 and more preferably less than about 15 degrees. Although in the most preferred embodiments the resulting matrix¬ es are hyperhydrophilic, the treating of matrixes ac- cording to the claimed method to produce matrixes which are relatively more hydrophilic than the original, untreated matrixes is considered to be within the spir¬ it and scope of the present invention, regardless of whether the resulting matrixes would be considered hydrophilic or hydrophobic by one skilled in the art.

In some embodiments of the invention, treating compris¬ es contacting the molecules of the nitrile-containing polymer with an aldehyde or an aldehyde-generating compound. Essentially, any aldehyde may be used in the

-14-

practice of this invention. However, the molecular size of the aldehyde molecule may limit the usefulness of the aldehyde in embodiments where the article or matrix is in the form of a porous article. In such instances, the size of the pores will determine the suitability of the aldehyde by imposing an upper limit on the aldehyde's molecular size. The most preferred aldehyde is formaldehyde and the most preferred alde¬ hyde-generating compound is a formaldehyde-generating

10 compound, particularly dimethαxymethane, trioxane and paraformaldehyde.

The duration of the contacting of the molecules of the nitrile-containing polymer wit . the aldehyde or the aldehyde-generating compound is long enough to permit

T5 the formation of sufficient substituted amide groups to render the surface hydrophilic but not to hydrophilize the entire matrix structure.

0 The contacting with the aldehyde or the aldehyde-gener¬ ating compound may also be carried out in the presence of a catalyst. In some embodiments the catalyst com¬ prises an acid, preferably a blend of a strong acid and a weak acid. A variety of strong acids are known to 5 those skilled in the art and can be used in the prac¬ tice of the present invention. Common mineral acids as hydrochloric, phosphoric and sulfuric are presently preferred. Other preferred strong acids include alkylsulfuric or alkylsufonic acids or halosulfuric acids or the like, such as trifluoromethane sulfonic 0 acid or fluorosulfuric acid. Preferred weak acids include acetic acid. The acid may also be generated by an acid-generating substance, such as boron trifluoride or aluminum chloride or the like. Other suitable acids 5 will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon

the reading of the present application and these acid are intended to be within the scope and spirit of the present invention.

The rate of producing the matrix may be controlled by controlling the strength of the catalyst. In embodi¬ ments where the catalyst is an acid, the strength of the acid includes both the quantity and inherent strength. Additionally, the degree of hydrophilicity of the hydrophilic surface may be controlled by con¬ trolling the ratio of concentrations of the strong acid, the weak acid, and the aldehyde or aldehyde-gen¬ erating compound.

In some embodiments, the matrix is produced in the form of a porous article wherein the hydrophilic surface of the matrix defines the pores of the article. Prefera¬ bly, the porous article is a membrane, filter, or screen. In the preferred practice of the invention., the nitrile-containing polymer comprises an acryloni- trile-type monomer. Especially useful are acryloni¬ trile or methacrylonitrile monomers. The nitrile-con¬ taining polymer may be present throughout the matrix. However, only a portion of the nitrile groups of the polymers on the surface of the matrix are derivatized to substituted amide groups, preferably N-methylolamide groups. The remaining nitrile groups remain underivatized thereby providing physical integrity to the matrix. In embodiments where the matrix is pro¬ duced in the form of a porous article, the hydrophilic surface of the matrix defines pores in the porous ar¬ ticle.

In other embodiments, the method may also comprise contacting the hydrophilic surface of the matrix with

reagents capable of donating a plurality of ligands so as to attach the ligands to a portion of the substitut¬ ed amide groups. Suitable ligands included those capa¬ ble of attaching to the substituted amide groups. In the preferred embodiments of the invention, the substi¬ tuted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups and each of the preferred ligands is a bio-selective affinity group.

The molecules of the nitrile-containing polymer may also be crosslinked to other such molecules, preferably the crosslinking is between the substituted amide groups of the molecules on the surface of the matrix. In the embodiments where the substituted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups, the crosslinking is by means of methylene-bi's-amide.

When the polymer is contacted with an aldehyde or an aldehyde-generating compound, the contacting is prefer¬ ably effected by soaking the matrix in a reagent bath containing the aldehyde or the aldehyde-generating compound. The time of soaking, the temperature of the reagent bath, and the concentration of the reagents will depend on the type of aldehyde or aldehyde-gener¬ ating compound used, the type of nitrile-containing polymer present, the quantity and strength of the cata¬ lyst, if present, and the matrix properties desired. In order to prevent polymerization of the aldehyde or re-polymerization of the polymer, the water content of the reaction bath should be kept low. The precise level required will vary with the particular acid used, but the level in all cases should be such as to avoid competing reactions. In the embodiments where the nitrile-containing polymer comprises an acrylonitrile- type monomer, the hydrophilic substituted amide groups

are N-methylolamide groups, and the contacting is ef¬ fected with a formaldehyde-generating compound in the presence of an acid, the soaking bath reaction is for about 1 minute to about 48 hours and the temperature of the reagent bath is in a range of about 1°C to about 90"C. In the preferred embodiments, a portion of the molecules of the polymer on the surface of the matrix are crosslinked to other such molecules, the duration of the soaking bath reaction is for several minutes to about 24 hours and the temperature of the reagent bath is in the range of about 10"C to about 60'C. If the substituted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups, the crosslinking is by means of methylene-bis-amide.

The invention also provides improved methods of filtra¬ tion, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, reverse osmo¬ sis, dialysis, pervaporation, or sieving, where the improvement comprises using a porous or non-porous article having a portion of its exterior comprising t r.. hydrophilic surface of the matrix. The article of the present invention may also be used in affinity chroma¬ tography, affinity purification, affinity separation, or affinity adsorption.

Another aspect of the invention is a modified article of manufacture comprising an article and the matrix, where the matrix covers at least a portion of the exte¬ rior of the article. In certain embodiments, at least a portion of the exterior of the article comprises the hydrophilic surface of the matrix. Suitable articles are preformed articles having a nitrile-containing polymer on its exterior. In preferred embodiments, the nitrile-containing polymer is throughout the article. In embodiments where the modified article is a porous article, the hydrophilic surface of the matrix covers

the portions of the article's exterior which define the pores. Preferably, the preformed article is a filter, membrane, or screen. At present, the most preferred embodiments are membranes comprising acrylonitrile-type polymers and N-methylolamide groups as the hydrophilic substituted amide groups. A portion of the molecules of the polymer may also be crosslinked. Preferably, the crosslinking is by means of methylene-bis-amide groups.

The invention also provides a method for producing a modified article which comprises forming an article in which at least a portion of the exterior of the article comprises molecules of a nitrile-containing polymer and treating the article so formed so as to derivatize a portion of the nitrile groups of the polymer and pro¬ vide solely on the exterior of the article sufficient uncharged, hydrophilic substituted amide groups to render the exterior hydrophilic. In the preferred embodiments, the treating comprises contacting the preformed article with an aldehyde or aldehyde-generat¬ ing compound. At present, the most preferred aldehyde is formaldehyde. The formaldehyde may be generated by dimethoxymethane, trioxane, or paraformaldehyde; espe¬ cially useful is trioxane and dimethoxymethane.

The contacting may also be performed in the presence of a catalyst. Preferred catalysts include an acid or an acid-generating substance, preferably a blend of a strong mineral acid or a mineral acid-generating sub¬ stance and a weak acid. The rate of derivatization, and hence the rate of producing the modified article, may be controlled by controlling the strength of the catalyst. Additionally, the degree of hydrophilicity can be controlled by the ratio of concentrations of the

strong acid, the weak acid, and the aldehyde.

In the preferred embodiments, the hydrophilic exterior of the modified article defines pores and the modified article itself is porous, such as a membrane, filter or screen. Preferably, the substituted amide groups are N-methylolamide groups.

In some embodiments the method further comprises con¬ tacting the hydrophilic exterior of the modified arti¬ cle with reagents capable of donating a plurality of ligands so as to attach the ligands to a portion of the substituted amide groups.

Some of the molecules of the nitrile-containing polymer may also be crosslinked. Preferably, the crosslinking is between the substituted amide groups and is by means of methylene-bis-a ide.

Another aspect of the invention is an improved method of filtration, ultrafiltration, microfiltration, re¬ verse osmosis, dialysis, pervaporation, or sieving, or similar operation, where the improvement comprises using the modified article. The invention also con¬ cerns improved methods of affinity chromatography, affinity purification, affinity separation and affinity adsorption, wherein the-.improvement comprises using the modified article.

Certain embodiments of this invention are exemplified in the examples which follow. These examples are set forth to aid in an understanding of the invention but are not intended to-, and should not be construed to, limit in any way the invention as set forth in the claims which follow.

EXAMPLE 1

A non-porous article in the form of a thin flat sheet was treated in a reagent bath containing formaldehyde. The article was composed of polyacrylonitrile polymers of greater than 90% acrylonitrile monomers. The re¬ agent bath contained 34.2 parts of concentrated sulfu- ric acid, 13.1 parts of concentrated acetic acid, 37.8 parts of formic acid and 14.9 parts of trioxane as the formaldehyde source. The freshly composed reagent bath was allowed to equilibrate at 30*C for 1 hour before use. The article was treated in the reaction bath at 30*C for 16 hours, then withdrawn, rinsed with water and soaked at ambient temperature for 60 minutes in an aqueous bath consisting of 3.8 part sodium borate, pH = 9.

After rinsing the article with water and blotting it dry, it could be wetted by water which readily spread upon the hydrophilic surface. The original, untreated article, in contrast, did not wet nor spread water.

EXAMPLE 2

A porous article in the form of a thin, flat sheet membrane was treated for four [4] hours in a formalde¬ hyde bath the composition of which is described in Example 1. The membrane was composed of polyacryl¬ onitrile polymers of greater than 90% acrylonitrile monomers. Following the bath treatment period, the membrane was soaked in a water bath at 2"C for 30 min¬ utes. The membrane was then soaked for 60 minutes at ambient temperatures in an aqueous bath consisting of 3.8 parts sodium borate, pH = 9.

It was observed that drops of water applied to the surface of the treated membrane spread readily. Simi¬ lar drop tests with control, untreated membranes showed only beads of water without spreading. The treated membrane was mounted on a conventional stirred cell apparatus and tested for fluid flux, protein rejection and, after exposure to protein, for recovery of fluid flux.

It became evident from the test results that, in con¬ trast with untreated membrane, the treated membrane resisted fouling by protein and recovered fluid flux after a simple flushing operation (see Table 1) .

TABLE 1

Protein Buffer Flux*

[liters/hour-square meter] Untreated Membrane Treated Membrane

none 149 +/- 7 178 +/- 9 myoglobin 65 184 ovalbu in 52 184 ' bovine serum albumin 53 179 bovine gamma-globulins 24 175

*10 psi transmembrane pressure difference

EXAMPLE 3

A porous article in the form of a membrane was treated for three (3) hours in a reagent bath at 30°C. The article was composed of greater than 90% acrylonitrile monomers. The reagent bath contained 15.0 parts of trioxane, 13.2 parts of acetic acid, 37.4 parts of

for ic acid and 34.4 parts of concentrated sulfuric acid. After treatment, the article was rinsed with water and soaked at ambient temperature for 60 minutes in an aqueous bath consisting of 3.8 parts sodium borate, pH = 9.

After rinsing the article with water and blotting it dry, it could be wetted by water which readily spread upon the hydrophilic surface. In addition to spreading of drops of water, hydrophilicity of the membrane was indicated by the solid-liquid contact angle made by application of a drop of an aqueous solution applied to the membrane surface according to the method of George M. Whitesides and co-workers (Stephen Randell Holmes- Farley, Robert H. Reamey, Thomas J. McCarthy, John Deutch and George M. Whitesides, Langmuir, 1 :725-740, 1985) . The contact angle measured 30 seconds after drop application was 4 degrees for the treated membrane and 46 degrees for the untreated membrane. As refer¬ ence, the contact angles also were measured for conven¬ tional, commercially available membranes made of other materials. It became obvious from these results that the present invention is markedly "hyperhydrophilic" as compared with well known "hydrophilic" membrane surfac¬ es. For illustration, the comparative results are provided in Table 2.

TABLE 2

Membrane Contact Angle degrees*

Present Invention (treated) 4 Present Invention (untreated) 46 Conventional Polyethersulfone 65 "Hydrophilized" Polyethersulfone 44 "Hydrophilic" Cellulosic 24

* Contact angle measured at 30 seconds after drop ap¬ plication to surface.

In addition to contact angle measurements, the hydrophilicity of the treated membrane was examined by measurements of fluid flux on a conventional stirred cell apparatus before and after exposure to a protein. It became evident from the test results that the treat¬ ed membrane resisted fouling by protein and recovered fluid flux after a simple flushing operation (see Table 3).

TABLE 3

SAMPLE BUFFER FLUX AFTER SAMPLE FILTRATION* CLITERS/HOUR-SQUARE METER]

BUFFER 596

BOVINC SERUM ALBUMIN 630

BOVINE GAMMA-GLOBULINS 589

*10 PSI TRANSMEMBRANE PRESSURE DIFFERENCE

EXAMPLE 4

A porous article in the form of a membrane composed of polyacrylonitrile containing polymers was treated for 60 minutes at 23'C in a bath containing dimethoxy¬ methane and sulfuric acid. The bath consisted of 25 parts of dimethoxymethane and 75 parts of sulfuric acid. The bath was equilibrated at 23'C for 1 hour before use. Following the reaction bath treatment, the membrane was soaked sequentially in a water bath at 2°C for 30 minutes and then in an aqueous bath containing 3.8 parts of sodium borate, pH = 9, at ambient tempera¬ ture for 60 minutes.

As in the above examples, it was observed that drops of water applied to the surface of the treated membrane spread readily. Similarly, when the membrane was exam¬ ined in a stirred cell for recovery of fluid flux after exposure to protein, it became evident that the treated membrane resisted fouling by protein and recovered fluid flux after a simple flushing operation. For example, the treated membrane exhibited an initial buffer flux of 44.7 liters per hour-square meter at 20 psi, transmembrane pressure, before exposure to pro¬ tein. After ultrafiltration of individual protei solutions of myoglobin, chymotrypsin, ovalbumin, an bovine serum albumin, the initial buffer flux was re covered for each protein studied.

EXAMPLE 5

A membrane composed of polyacrylonitrile-containin polymers was treated in a reaction bath containing 21. parts dimethoxymethane, 65.3 parts of concentrate sulfuric acid and 12.8 parts of acetic acid. Th

treat ent was conducted for 1 hour at 23"C. The treat¬ ed membrane was soaked sequentially in a cold water bath and a borate bath as described in example #4, above.

As in example #4, above, it was observed that drops of water spread readily when applied to the surface of the treated membrane. Similarly, when the membrane was examined in a stirred cell for recovery of fluid flux after exposure to protein, it became obvious that the treated membrane resisted fouling by protein and recov¬ ered fluid flux after a simple flushing operation.

In other studies, the treated membrane was found to resist disruption and dissolution by organic solvents which otherwise rapidly and completely dissolv un¬ treated membranes. For example, after a treated mem¬ brane and an untreated membrane had been soaked in a solvent bath of gamma-butyrolactone at ambient tempera¬ tures for one hour, the untreated membrane had dis¬ solved while the treated membrane was still intact. Moreover, prolonged exposure lasting 4 days of treated membrane to gamma-butyrolactone in a solvent bath at ambient temperatures showed no significant change from a treated membrane which had not been exposed to sol¬ vent. The data in Table 4 for flux recovery after exposure to protein illustrate these observations.

TABLE 4

>AMPLE BUFFER FLUX AFTER SAMPLE FILTRATION*

[ liters/hour-square meter] BEFORE SOLVENT AFTER SOLVENT**

buffer 41 44 myoglobin 44 46 ovalbumin 44 46 bovine serum albumin 44 46 bovine ga ma-globuline 41 41

* 10 psi transmembrane pressure difference. ** Solvent bath was 100% gamma-butyrolactone at ambient temperature, and the membrane solvent exposure time was 4 days.

EXAMPLE 6

A membrane composed of pσlyacrylonitrile containing polymers was treated in a formaldehyde reaction bath containing 5.8 parts of paraformaldehyde, 44.2 parts of concentrated sulfuric acid and 50 parts of concentrated acetic acid. The treatment was conducted for 6 hours at 23 β C. The treated membrane was soaked in an ice cold water bath at 2°C for 30 minutes and then soaked for 60 minutes at 23'C in a aqueous bath containing 3.8 parts of sodium borate, pH = 9.

The treated article had hydrophilic character, illus¬ trated by water spreading. Studies performed as de¬ scribed in the above examples with the membrane mounted in a stirred cell, showed that the treated membrane recovered its initial buffer flux after ultra¬ filtration of protein solutions.

EXAMPLE 7

A porous article in the form of a membrane was treated as in example #3. The membrane was then exposed to an aqueous solution consisting approximately of 0.01M sodium carbonate, 0.3M sodium chloride, and 2 milli¬ grams per ml of "reactive dye". The reactive dye was Procion Red Reactive Dye MX-2B (PolySciences) , which is a red colored, chromophore-substituted, triazinyl-ha- lide which reacts like an acyl-halide with suitable nucleophiles, among which are N-methylolamides of the present invention. The reaction between the reactive dye and the treated membrane was conducted overnight (e.g., 16 hours) at ambient temperatures. The reacted membrane was extensively washed with water and saline solutions to remove unreacted dye. The resulting mem¬ brane was found to be permanently derivatized to show a red color which could not be removed by further washings. In this example, the red chromophore is considered as a potential affinity-sorptive ligand, while the reactive triazinyl moiety represents a well established reagent for linking affinity ligands in general to suitable matrix materials (e.g., Hodgins, L.T. and Levy, M. : Affinity Adsorbent Preparation: Chemical Features of Agarose Derivatization with Trichloro-s-triazine, J.Chromatogr, 202:381 (1980)).