Overview- Mission & Goals

The Molecular Biophysics and Biotechnology unit comprises 2 main areas of research:

Biomembranes are key structural and functional elements of all biological cells.

One of the key challenges in biophysics and chemical biology is gaining an understanding of the underlying physico-chemical basis of the highly complex structure and properties of biomembranes. It used to be thought that the lipid component played a passive role, simply acting as a self-assembled bilayer matrix within which the active protein components functioned. However, it has now become clear that there is an intimate two way interplay between the lipid and the protein components in determining membrane structure, organization and dynamics, and that lipids play many active roles in biological function.

Moreover, membranes represent key barriers/targets for most drugs. In this sense, their study as well as the interactions with drugs can provide significant information about the mechanism of action of the drugs as well as explain main or complementary therapeutic and toxic effects.

Membrane mimetic models such as liposomes, monolayers and lipid bilayers represent important tools in the study of such interactions.

During the last century, progress in medicine has been associated with the development of new drugs, which has led to improved therapeutics. However, in some instances, the results are not proportionally linked to the amount of research that has been performed. This is often due to impaired pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics leading to elimination of the drug or severe side effects.

To minimize drug degradation and loss, to reduce its potential toxicity, to control its release either through passive processes or by external stimuli, to prevent harmful side-effects, to increase drug bioavailability and the fraction of the drug accumulated in the required zone, various drug delivery and drug targeting systems are currently under development.