Final Report Summary - PMELT (New Frontiers in Protein-based Nanomaterials)
This ERC Advanced Grant has pioneered a new frontier in protein-based nanomaterials chemistry based on a recent exciting discovery that functional biomacromolecules can be prepared in the molten or pure liquid state by appropriate modification and design of their surface structures. We have elucidated the scope of this new phenomenon, and exploited this novel class of biomolecular fluids in applications related to biotechnology and health care. Methodologies and experimental methods have been established in the laboratory, and a range of solvent-free protein liquids including fluids comprising enzymes such as glucose oxidase, alkaline phosphatase and lysozyme have been prepared and characterized in detail. The mechanistic stages of protein unfolding in solvent-free liquids prepared using the oxygen binding biomolecule, myoglobin, have been studied experimentally and computationally. We have also investigated the application of our methodology to the development of solvent free-liquid non-pathogenic plant viruses, and demonstrated that this procedure provides a route to highly concentrated samples that can be used to transfect plants. We have also studied the temperature-dependent electrochemical behaviour of solvent-free myoglobin liquids. Finally, our work has opened up the possibility of using protein-polymer surfactant nanoconstructs as highly concentrated liquids for enzymatic transformations in water or organic solvents, as well as agents for the delivery of oxygen to surface-modified stem cells.