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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Dynamic Interactions at Cell Membrane Interfaces - Workshop: 'Self-assembling peptides and proteins as templates for functional nanostructures' and 'Electrochemistry at the living cell membrane-solution interface'

12th October 2018, 12:30 to 13:30, Room W010, Department of Geography

Membrane Nanoparticles (MNPs) are small vesicles ubiquitously released into bodily fluids from cells. They have an enormous diagnostic and therapeutic potential, ranging from immune therapy, to vaccination, regenerative medicine, drug delivery, personalized medicine and the point-of-care market (projected £1 billion/year by 2022). The field is however still in its infancy and many aspects remain unexplored, partly due to the interdisciplinary nature of the field. While considerable research efforts are examining the biochemical properties of MNPs, to date little attention has been paid to their physicalproperties such as size, charge, density and mechanical properties. Recently, a handful of reports have shown that the physical properties of MNPs can be related to their function,in particular with respect to ageing, cancer and diabetes propagation. This presents a unique opportunity for fast and cheap point-of-care biodiagnostics, potentially scalable to robust lab-on-chip platforms.

The main goal of this exciting project is to explore the possibility to learn biologically meaningful information from the physical properties of MNPs. This will be done first by measuring the density, viscosity, size and charge of well characterised synthetic membrane nano-vesicles to build up a fundamental understanding of the relationship between the biochemical and biophysical properties of MNPs. These tests will subsequently be expanded to natural MNPs and compared with the model systems.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of the field and the project itself, significant efforts will be dedicated to the building of a network of relevant experts spanning medicine, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and materials sciences. The experts will be primarily from the UK, but also include the IAS Fellows, all brought together by their interest in the scientific questions explored in the project.

It is foreseen that the practical details of the project will evolve, based on the input from experts, preliminary results and scientific discussions.

The main activities will take the form of scientific presentations and workshops, in coordination with a number of visiting IAS Fellows: Professor David Williams, University of Auckland, and Professor Boris Snopok, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine during Michaelmas term, and Professor Jurriaan Huskens, University of Twente, and Dr Zakaria Almsherqi, National University of Singapore during Epiphany term.

The workshops are more focused discussions on the research and collaborative work involving primarily the relevant IAS Fellows and other academics at Durham. The workshops are open to everyone, but are primarily aimed at specialists.

Workshop I - Friday 12 October, 12.30-13.30, Room W010, Geography Department

-Self-assembling peptides and proteins as templates for functional nanostructures

-Electrochemistry at the living cell membrane-solution interface

The next workshops in this series will take place on:

Workshop II - Friday 9 November, 12.00-13.00, Room W010, Geography Department

-Bioelectrochemical energy generation and storage using robust marine organisms

-Self-assembling peptides and proteins as templates for functional nanostructures

Workshop III - Friday 7 December, 12.00-13.00, Room W010, Geography Department

-“Emergent” phenomena from self-assembled nanostructures

-Electrostatic effects at the nanoscale

Contact for more information about this event.