One of Nature's most important talents is evolutionary development of systems capable
of distinguishing one molecule from another. Molecular recognition is the basis for most
biological processes, such as ligand-receptor binding, substrate-enzyme reactions,
translation and transcription of the genetic code and is therefore of universal interest.
If Nature can produce enzymes, receptors and antibodies by evolution, we should be able to
develop materials with similar properties by design
A particularly exciting area of biomimetics is bio-organic and supramolecular
chemistry in which we operate. Amongst the types of supramolecular species we are interested,
are supermolecules - atomically precise discrete species with a three-dimensional organisation
of components/functional groups, and supramolecular assemblies that result from the spontaneous
association of a large undefined number of components. The molecular recognition in
supramolecular systems might be tailored accordingly to patterns existing in biochemical
systems and involve steric (shape and size) and interactional complementarity.
Among the representatives supramolecular systems we are studying are polypeptides,
dendrimers, and molecularly imprinted polymers.
We create supramolecular objects which are hybrids or chimeras, engineered biomolecules
coupled with synthetic parts capable of manifesting an additional function, e.g. electron
transport (molecular wire linked with enzyme), signal transduction or mechanical
action (e.g. molecular arms). Smart materials with biorecognition functions posses enormous
potential for the development of a new generation of stable biomimetic sensors,
affinity separation matrices and drug development.