The scientific interests of the Biomolecule Design Group balance between the disciplines of (bio)polymer chemistry, biochemistry and biotechnological engineering, the meeting place of materials science and life sciences.
The main focus of the group lies on the use and development of methods to chemically or biologically modify proteins, inspired by strategies found in nature. By manipulating the biological machinery of living cells, our group aims to site-specifically introduce bio-orthogonal chemical functionalities at the amino acid level.
One of the current goals is to ‘click’ these newly designed biomolecules covalently and uniquely oriented onto functionalized solid substrates (diamond or conjugated polymers) in order to develop hybrid materials with improved, novel or well-defined biological functionality, reactivity and/or activity.
Although the introduction of bio-orthogonal chemistries into biomolecules is at the moment mainly driven by the goal to improve biosensing platforms by controlling and optimizing the orientation and coupling stability of the biomolecule to a solid substrate, the introduction of chemical functionalities would greatly enlarge the possibilities in the field of protein engineering.
The covalent coupling can be realized and characterized by NMR spectroscopy (NMR) using smart (labeled) chemical linkers designed in close collaboration with the Polymer Reaction Design group (PRD) and the Design & Synthesis of Organic Semiconductors group (DSOS).
Besides playing a role in the development of bio-sensing systems, our research projects can be central to numerous other applications including bio-imaging, new bio-inspired materials, peptide/polymer hybrids, proteomic analysis, improving biocompatibility of biomedical implants, targeted drug delivery systems.