Irene M. Mavridis
Biomineralization: Understanding of basic mechanisms for the design of novel strategies in nanobiotechnology
FP7-PEOPLE-ITN. EU funding: a collaboration of eight European partners. 1/9/2008 to 31/08/2012. I. M. Mavridis, PI.
BUDGET for the group 184 500 €
The goal of this multidisciplinary network was to understand basic principles of biomineralization (bio-silicification and bio-calcification) in order to develop novel strategies to apply the biological mechanisms in the field of nanotechnology.
Silica is widely used in industry and nano(bio)technology. The industrial production of silica requires high temperatures and extreme pH conditions. However, certain single- and multicellular organisms, including diatoms, sponges and higher plants are able to form their silica skeletons (spicules) under ambient, low temperature and pressure, and near-neutral pH conditions, by genetically controlled processes involving proteins (biosilification). This naturally formed silica, built by living organisms as part of a family of similar processes generally known as “biomineralisation”, will be particularly useful for applications, where silica is to come into contact with the human body, such as regeneration of bone tissue, coating of metal implants and encapsulation of drugs for slow release or for catalytic processes useful to the “green industry”. The contribution of NCSRD group has been to produce by biotechnological techniques the two main proteins involved in biosilification, namely silicatein and silicase and subsequently to determine their 3D structure of by X-ray crystallography.