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Highly fluorinated amphiphiles and colloidal systems, and their applications in the biomedical field. A contribution. Krafft M P,Riess J G Biochimie Fluorocarbons and fluorocarbon moieties are uniquely characterized by very strong intramolecular bonds and very weak intermolecular interactions. This results in a combination of exceptional thermal, chemical and biological inertness, low surface tension, high fluidity, excellent spreading characteristics, low solubility in water, and high gas dissolving capacities, which are the basis for innovative applications in the biomedical field. Perfluoroalkyl chains are larger and more rigid than their hydrogenated counterparts. They are considerably more hydrophobic, and are lipophobic as well. A large variety of well-defined, modular fluorinated surfactants whose polar head groups consist of polyols, sugars, sugar phosphates, amino acids, amine oxides, phosphocholine, phosphatidylcholine, etc, has recently been synthesized. Fluorinated surfactants are significantly more surface active than their hydrocarbon counterparts, both in terms of effectiveness and of efficiency. Despite this, they are less hemolytic and less detergent. Fluorosurfactants appear unable to extract membrane proteins. Fluorinated chains confer to surfactants a powerful driving force for collecting and organizing at interfaces. As compared to non-fluorinated analogs, fluorosurfactants have also a much stronger capacity to self-aggregate into discrete molecular assemblies when dispersed in water and other solvents. Even very short, single-chain fluorinated amphiphiles can form highly stable, heat-sterilizable vesicles, without the need for supplementary associative interactions. Sturdy microtubules were obtained from non-chiral, non-hydrogen bonding single-chain fluorosurfactants. Fluorinated amphiphiles can be used to engineer a variety of colloidal systems and manipulate their morphology, structure and properties. Stable fluorinated films, membranes and vesicles can also be prepared from combinations of standard surfactants with fluorocarbon/hydrocarbon diblock molecules. In bilayer membranes made from fluorinated amphiphiles the fluorinated tails segregate to form an internal teflon-like hydrophobic and lipophobic film that increases the stability of the membrane and reduces its permeability. This fluorinated film can also influence the behavior of fluorinated vesicles in a biological milieu. For example, it can affect the in vivo recognition and fate of particles, or the enzymatic hydrolysis of phospholipid components. Major applications of fluorocarbons currently in advanced clinical trials include injectable emulsions for delivering oxygen to tissues at risk of hypoxia; a neat fluorocarbon for treatment of acute respiratory failure by liquid ventilation; and gaseous fluorocarbon-stabilized microbubbles for use as contrast agents for ultrasound imaging. Fluorosurfactants also allow the preparation of a range of stable direct and reverse emulsions, microemulsions, multiple emulsions, and gels, some of which may include fluorocarbon and hydrocarbon and aqueous phases simultaneously. Highly fluorinated systems have potential for the delivery of drugs, prodrugs, vaccines, genes, markers, contrast agents and other materials.