Bionics at the molecular level: copying Nature to control Nature
Giuseppe Battaglia , IBEC
A very established approach in medicine involves the replacement of organs or other malfunctioning body parts by synthetic versions, engineered to mimic (or even augment it, if you allow the sci-fi digression) the original function. Bionics is a very established medical discipline where engineering spouses the life sciences, creating exquisite combinations. With the help of nanoscience and nanotechnology, we can now push such an effort down to the molecular level. In our group, we fabricate synthetic surrogates of trafficking vesicles, viruses and, one day perhaps, even a whole cell. Such molecular bionic units offer more efficient solutions to deliver drugs, to probe life at the nanoscale, and to act as a model to understand biological complexity.
Our efforts are intrinsically multidisciplinary, and we mix chemistry, physics and biology in all we do. We typically start studying biological complexity, with a strong focus on transport, trafficking and multivalent interactions (Physical Biology). To help this, we develop new tools to look at biological systems in four dimensions capturing life’s spatiotemporal patterns (Microscopy). We thus apply a constructionist approach where we mimic biological complexity in the form of design principles such as compartmentalisation, multivalency and taxis, to produce functional units from simple building blocks and their interactions (Molecular Engineering). Finally, we apply the resulting constructs to tackle disorders such as cancer, neurodegeneration, inflammation, and infections (Nanomedicine).
Today, I start introducing our research activities giving a few examples of each segment, to eventually focus my seminar on one of the latest and most exciting developments, our understanding of multivalent interaction and how these control crucial biological processes, such as cellular selectivity and trafficking.
The seminar will take place online at the GoToMeeting Platform
Know more about Giuseppe Battaglia’s research here