Molecular Bionics


Giuseppe Battaglia | Group Leader / ICREA Research Professor
Ian Peter Williams | Postdoctoral Researcher
Claudia Di Guglielmo | Laboratory Technician

About

In our labs, we design bionic units that mimic specific biological functions and/or introduce operations that do not exist in nature.

We apply a constructionist approach where we mimic biological complexity in the form of design principles to produce functional units from simple building blocks and their interactions. We call this Molecular Bionics. Such an effort is multidisciplinary and involves inputs from chemistry, physics, material science and Engineering from one side and cell and molecular biology, physiology, immunology, oncology and neuroscience from the other.

We are engaged in several activities involving the synthesis and characterisation of novel hierarchal materials whose properties are the result of the holistic combination of its components:

Molecular engineering


We combine synthetic and supramolecular chemistry to tune inter/intramolecular interactions and self-assembly processes to form dynamic soft materials whose molecular, supramolecular and mesoscale structures are tuned and fit for the final application (pictured right: molecular engineering of nanoscopic structures starting from molecule passing to polymers and finally to supra molecular structures).

Membrane topology – Live fibroblast imaged after the delivery of PiP2 (green), Ceramide (white), Cholesterol (blue) and Actin (red) probes

Physical biology


Our materials are designed to interact with living systems and thus its biological activity is studied in high detail. We have developed and established new methodologies to study living systems and how synthetic materials interact with them combining holistically physical and life sciences (Physical Biology).

Synthetic biology


Nanoscopic and biocompatible asymmetric polymer vesicles (known as polymersomes)

Both know-hows are applied to study biological organisation and complexity creating synthetic surrogates that act as models, as well as to engineer novel sophisticated ways to interact with living organisms.

Somanautics


In analogy to medical bionics, where engineering and physical science converge to the design of replacement and/or enhancement of malfunctioning body parts, we take inspiration from viruses, trafficking vesicles and exosomes to apply molecular engineering to create nanoscopic carriers that can navigate the human body (Somanautics) with the final aim to improve drug delivery or create new diagnostic tools.


Visit our external website to find out more.

Projects

Publications

Equipment

  • State-of-the-art facilities for cell culture including 5 class A cell cabinets: one dedicated for LPS and RNAse free cell culture and one dedicated for infected tissues
  • Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)
  • Confocal microscope to perform live cell 4D imaging
  • Thermocycler
  • Real-time PCR
  • Automated Western Blot
  • Gel Permeation Chromatography
  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography
  • Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography equipped with fluorescence, UV/Vis and Infrared and light scattering detectors
  • Dynamic light scattering unit
  • Nanoparticle tracking analysis
  • UV and Fluorescence spectroscopy
  • Automated liquid handling units
  • Nanoparticle production units

Collaborations

News