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Investment of several million SEK in sealed protein capsules

An extensive research project on the design of tiny protein containers has now been awarded a prestigious grant from the European Research Council, ERC. The grant of approximately SEK 20 million will go to researcher Ingemar André at the Department of Chemistry.
Ingemar André
Ingemar André

Chemist Ingemar André is awarded ERC funding for a research project on designing sealed capsules at the molecular level. These capsules could be used to transport drugs into the cells of the human body. The capsules will be made up of protein-based nanostructures that imitate nature’s own self-assembling ability. This means that the proteins spontaneously bind to one another in order to build more complex structures.

“The goal is to produce protein structures that can form sealed spherical containers”, says Ingemar André, researcher at the Faculty of Science.

To achieve this, the project first needs to develop methods for both computer modelling and experimental evolution, i.e. the method of mimicking the evolutionary process of nature in a lab environment, at the molecular level. In this case, it involves testing the various mutations of a protein to see which variant appears to have the best properties, and using that variant in the next mutation round. This process is repeated in a number of mutation cycles until the protein most suitable for building the capsules has been obtained.

“The trick is to be able to measure the ‘fitness’ of a protein for the property you want to improve”, says Ingemar André.

Four other researchers at Lund University received ERC Consolidator Grants in the 2017 round of awards. Read more about them here.

Lena Björk Blixt

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Investment of several million SEK in sealed protein capsules
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