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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T016140/1
Title: Supramolecular Bioinspired Responsive Materials: Exploiting Polyproline Helices
Principal Investigator: Palma, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Physical Sciences
Organisation: University of Kent
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 11 February 2021 Ends: 10 February 2024 Value (£): 404,543
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Chemical Synthetic Methodology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Dec 2019 EPSRC Physical Sciences - December 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project will pioneer the use of a unique class of stimuli responsive biocompatible supramolecular building blocks, polyproline helices, for the synthesis of novel supramolecular bioinspired responsive materials. We will create unique smart biocompatible constructs capable of performing divergent green catalysis, chemical sensing, chemical separation and drug delivery.

The use of supramolecular interactions (dynamic, "non-permanent" and reversible interactions) allow scientists to create materials with unprecedented properties such as self-healing. The use of biopolymers, such as DNA and RNA, to create complex 3D structures (DNA origami) is a prime example of the unique results achievable when combining supramolecular chemistry with programmable and periodic biopolymers.

Peptides are a different type of biopolymer which are receiving increasing interest as potential building blocks in bioinspired supramolecular chemistry. These types of biopolymers can be accessed in large quantities and can be functionalised with non-natural amino acids using robust synthetic methods. Their behaviour as building blocks in supramolecular chemistry is an ongoing and active area of research.

In this research project we will be using a specific type of peptide with a well-defined secondary structure: polyproline helices. These chiral helices are stable (even in short sequences), versatile (ie they can tolerate a wide range of functionalities on their backbone without perturbation of their conformation) and are responsive to external stimuli (eg temperature, pH, nature of the solvent). These properties combined will allow us to programme the peptides to assemble in a variety of ways giving rise to different constructs, each of which will perform a unique task (eg host-guest chemistry, catalysis, programmable assembly and disassembly of a construct).

This project aims to understand the behaviour of these peptides as supramolecular building blocks in order to rationally design unique smart biomaterials capable of performing chemical catalysis, chemical sensing, chemical separation and drug delivery in a green and biocompatible manner. Our methodical and rational approach will lead to a significant advancement in the field of bioinspired supramolecular chemistry placing the UK at the forefront of this exciting research area.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.kent.ac.uk