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Molecular bionics: copying Nature to control Nature

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Bionics (from Greek Βιονικός Βιο -unit of life and νικός -derived from) is the study of making artificial systems implementing functions and features found in biological structures. With advent of nanotechnology we can now translate this approach at molecular level and construct novel structures that mimic (and possibly improve) biological functions. We apply this approach to research problems that require a considerable understanding of biology to tackle clinical challenges. We start identifying the tools necessary to address the specific clinical problem, we subsequently study in details the interactions between the nanostructured materials and the living system often adapting and/or developing new techniques. Finally we test our devices using detailed pharmacological and medical characterisations. This approach is highly interdisciplinary and combine fundamental science with engineering coalescing expertise from across disciplines such as synthetic chemistry, polymer science, soft matter physics, biophysics, cell biology, immunology, oncology, and neuroscience. I will discuss briefly our molecular tools based on waterborne self assembly, the chemistry and the physics behind the resulting structures, how these can be combined to engineer simple or complex structures and how parameter such size, shape, topology and surface topography affect their interaction with biological systems. Finally I will show few examples how such an approach can lead to new clinical applications.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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