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BASE Résumé de rapport

Project ID: 516961
Financé au titre de: FP6-NMP
Pays: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - BASE (Bio-based functional materials from engineered self-assembling peptides)

Self-assembly is a method of spontaneous organisation of molecules into higher order structures and defined by set boundary conditions (e.g. pH, temperature, etc.). Nature operates in this manner and produces countless meso- and macro-structures based on the underlying molecular architectures. For now, these principles are hardly exploited for industrial purposes, mainly for reasons of maturity of technology and cost, limiting its application to high value products in the medical and pharmaceutical arena.

The BASE project aimed to establish the scientific and technological knowledge needed to create tailored bio-inspired functionality in a new class of nano-coatings for plastics, metals and ceramic objects, exploiting the self-assembly capabilities of short peptides. The work programme addressed the challenges of bio-technological engineering of peptides at a competitive cost and their functional performance validation in selected selfassembled nano-coatings.

Innovative, functional nano-coatings through the exploitation of the self-assembling capabilities of short peptides on substrates require:
1. understanding of the selected peptide self-assembly behaviour on different substrates;
2. production of the selected peptides in sufficient quantities (i.e. kg quantity) at low cost;
3. processing methods to apply the peptide solutions and gels in ways to trigger their self assembly;
4. meeting at least the performance requirements of existing coating on various substrates.

Therefore, the work plan demonstrated the vertical integration from molecule to application and covered:
1. laboratory synthesis of known and novel peptides and their evaluation;
2. experimental biosynthetic production of peptides and the development of efficient scale-up protocols;
3. exploring the coating capacity of tailored peptides for various substrates and environmental conditions and their functionality evaluation for selected applications;
4. a sustainability study to assess the environmental, economic and societal impact of these novel applications.

The overall project coordination is in the hands of Dow. The University of Leeds focused on the chemical synthesis of peptides on a laboratory scale, associated molecular characterisation and characterisation of their self-assembling capacity into a variety of supra-molecular structures; A&F investigated the possibilities to scale-up the production techniques for these peptides; the University of Gent and CIDETEC both looked at different processing and fabrication techniques of coatings made of the peptides, how to evaluate the functionality of the nano-coating and how to trigger self-assembly after the coating has been applied. The industrial partners (Dow, MARE, SupraPolix and Interchem Hellas) each have their own application to focus on to cover a broad range of performance requirements and industrial sectors. The University of Stuttgart provided, based on a sustainability analysis on the materials resulting from the project, decision support when choices have to be made e.g. between different products, production processes or raw materials. As of December 2006, the BASE consortium was expanded with the addition of Fudan University in Shanghai, People's Republic of China, which would investigate scale-up manufacturing of self-assembling peptides starting from abundantly available, cheap, natural feedstock.

The scale-up of peptide production was mirrored to the Asia-Pacific region through collaboration with Prof. Anton Middelberg of the Centre for Biomolecular Engineering, the University of Queensland in Australia. Through this cooperation EU-BASE can benefit from the expertise and facilities available at the Australian institute. For this link to the EU-BASE activities, Prof. Middelberg has received a grant from the Australian government, Department of Education, Science and Training' (DEST) under the International Science Linkages (ISL) programme.

In the first half of the fourth project year, efforts were mainly focussed on exploring applicability of the various peptides in the targeted applications. Proof of concept has been delivered but further exploration is required to validate the observed features. It includes the production of optimised peptides in somewhat larger quantities then produced thus far. Significant progress has been made in exploring the biomass option as an alternative route to peptides. In particular, casein and silk proteins, after hydrolysis, yield potentially interesting self-assembling peptides. This would provide an easy processing route to a peptide based feedstock at a significantly reduced cost.

Proof of concept has been obtained for a number of applications which opens new avenues for breakthrough research and development. It is believed that non-water based peptide based coatings have a significant future in view of the small amount, functionality, and versatility of a peptide based coating material. Accordingly this project contributes to the effort of finding innovative solutions for achieving a knowledge driven and a sustainable society in Europe.

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