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Protometabolic pathways: exploring the chemical roots of systems biology

Objective

Understanding how prebiotic chemistry gave rise to life as we know it represents one of the greatest enduring mysteries. The complete absence of a historical record requires the collaboration of scientists from different disciplines with access to advanced tools in order to make any meaningful progress. Here, we plan to exploit this tremendous challenge to train a new generation of scientists to think big, but also to work methodically and logically alongside colleagues from academia and industry. Eight Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) will be recruited to work in laboratories with expertise in systems chemistry, synthetic biology, microfluidics, and science philosophy to develop together a reconstituted protometabolism within compartments consisting of coacervates, vesicles, coacervate containing vesicles, and compartments etched into microfluidic chips. The underlying protometabolism will be composed of triose glycolysis and a reverse citric acid cycle and will be regulated by (metallo)peptide catalysts. Importantly, the protometabolism will support the maintenance of the compartment that houses the protocell. The ESRs that primarily focus on the construction of compartments that mimic protocellular structures will gain firsthand experience in how their formulations could be exploited as drug delivery vehicles through secondments at partner organizations. Similarly, the ESRs that develop (metallo)peptide catalysts will apply their newfound skills to the development of drug molecules through a secondment at a company that specializes in metallodrug formulations. Ultimately, by becoming experts in elucidating the chemical underpinnings of all known living cells, the ESRs will be extremely well positioned to enter a wide variety of research fields from synthetic biology to medicinal chemistry in either industry or academia.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI TRENTO

Address

Via Calepina 14
38122 Trento

Italy

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 261 499,68

Participants (7)

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MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 252 788,40

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 303 172,56

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH

Switzerland

EU Contribution

€ 281 276,64

UNIVERSIDAD DEL PAIS VASCO/ EUSKAL HERRIKO UNIBERTSITATEA

Spain

EU Contribution

€ 250 904,88

UNIVERSITE DE STRASBOURG

France

EU Contribution

€ 274 802,04

ELVESYS SAS

France

EU Contribution

€ 274 802,04

CHERRY BIOTECH

France

EU Contribution

€ 274 802,04

Partners (3)

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METALLOPHARM LLC

NANOVEX BIOTECHNOLOGIES SL

KUTXAGESTION ZERBITZUAK S.L.U.

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 813873

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 November 2018

  • End date

    31 October 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 174 048,28

  • EU contribution

    € 2 174 048,28

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI TRENTO

Italy