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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/S87195/01
Title: Biomimetic Membranes & Scaffolds
Principal Investigator: Evans, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Miles, Professor RE Jeuken, Professor LJ Colyer, Professor J
Bushby, Professor RJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 20 September 2004 Ends: 19 March 2008 Value (£): 267,946
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biological & Medicinal Chem.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The cytoplasmic membrane is a thin (5 nm), dynamic, structure just two molecules thick that serves to separate the inside from the outside of a cell. In spite of its fluidity it presents a barrier to the transfer of metabolites, hormones, charged ions, etc. The membrane structure, however, contains many proteins that serve as signal transducers and present pathways for the transfer of important materials across the otherwise impermeable barrier. These proteins are of significant biological, and medical, relevance and play key roles in many aspects of cellular function. It is thus not surprising that many of the future drugs to be developed will act on membrane proteins. The major problem facing the pharmaceutical industry and others trying to develop biological sensors based on such proteins is that the proteins often will not function outside of the membrane environment thus making them rather difficult to investigate. Recent development both inside, and outside, our laboratory have made significant steps in the formation of functional membrane mimics on planar supports. Such membranes display the necessary properties for utilisation but are too difficult to construct and too fragile once formed to be find use outside of the research laboratory. Nature overcomes these issues by the using the cytoskeleton - a filamentous network which serves to provide shape and support to the bilayer membrane. In this proposal we are seeking to mimic aspects of Nature's method of membrane stabilisation by creating an filamentous network of Actin ( the major component found in natural cellular systems). This network will be formed, as in cellular systems, by the dynamic polymerisation of Gactin to F-actin - using a membrane protein Ponticulin. This will be the first time such a biomimetic scaffold has been used for the stabilisation of planar supported bilayer membranes and should offer significant improvement in ease of bilayer formation and subsequent stability.
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Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk