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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/S86174/01
Title: Monte Carlo simulations of conductivity in biological ion channels - an exploratory study
Principal Investigator: McClintock, Professor P
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr D Luchinsky
Project Partners:
Department: Physics
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 15 July 2004 Ends: 14 July 2005 Value (£): 7,790
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Cells Condensed Matter Physics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Ion channels in cellular membranes are proteins with holes down their middles. They control a vast range of biological functions in health and disease, but their function is not yet well understood. They can be either open or closed to ions, and the challenge is to predict the rate at which ions pass through them when they are open. Ions in a channel experience a highly complicated pattern of interactions due to the presence of extearnal field and gradient of concetration, fixed charge on the walls of the channel, reaction field due to the polarization of the channel walls, random force due to the interaction with moving charges and moleculaes of water, periodic force due to the coupling to the vibrations of the walls etc. etc.. An analysis of its motion is a nontrivial problem that has defied solution for decades. It requires a self-consistent approach that takes into account multiple types of inteactions. As a prototype of such self-consistent approach we suggest to take a system of coupled Poisson and drift diffusion equations that have already been used very successfully in this context. We further suggest to extend the model by adding to it interactions of ions with the vibration of the walls and pair-correlation effect of ionic motion. To analyse this model numerically we suggest to develop a new technique of the Brownian dynamics simulations at the channel mouth glued to the small-scale molecular dynamic simulations in the channel neck. The problem can only be tackled through an interdisciplinary approach involving both physicists and biologists - which is perhaps why it has for so long been so resistant to solution. Combining the expertise of Eisenberg's group at Rush with the stochastic dynamics expertise of the Lancaster nonlinear group provides a promising way forward with excellent prospects for significant progressIf the research develops as we anticipate, we expect to make a responsive mode proposal to EPSRC, in about a year's time, for the support of a major research programme in this very important interdisciplinary area.
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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk