Structural modelling of the biological interface with materials

A new consortium, led by John Harding at Sheffield and comprising groups from Warwick , Cambridge and University College London has been funded by EPSRC under the Materials Modelling Initiative. Full details can be found on the consortium website . The consortium will build advanced models of heterointerfaces in biological and biomimetic materials to address problems from medical implants to nanodevices and composites. There is a remarkable growth in our ability to exploit the interface between materials and biology. Bio-material interfaces often determine biomaterial properties. Molecular recognition of surfaces by proteins is critical for biocompatibility since the attachment of cells to implants is initiated by protein adsorption The development of biosensors and the full exploitation of probe microscopies for chemical resolution need detailed models of bio-material interfaces. Furthermore, the control of biomineralization on organic scaffolds and templates is a key to the directed self-assembly that is essential if devices based on molecular-scale electronics are to be mass-produced. While recent results demonstrate clearly that proteins can control the assembly of nanoparticles, further progress requires an understanding of the specifics of interface recognition. Modelling the energetics and kinetics of bio-material interfaces in realistic aqueous environments is judged to be the best route to the understanding called for by world-leading experimental communities working in these areas.

Acknowledgements

We thank EPSRC for financial support under Grant No GR/S80103/01.