New grant from NSC for Supramolecular Chemistry Laboratory

We are launching a new research project funded by the National Science Centre, Poland, under the OPUS scheme. The aim of the project is to develop selective anionophores, i.e. small molecules capable of selectively transporting biologically important anions through lipid bilayers.

Most anions are too hydrophilic to spontaneously migrate through lipid bilayers. At the same time, however, their transport is necessary for life. For example, cellular respiration – a complex biochemical process through which every living cell produces energy – involves the facilitated transport of chloride, bicarbonate as well as various carboxylates and phosphates across lipid bilayers. In cells, this is usually accomplished by specialised proteins, and hence their dysfunction can cause serious diseases. Accordingly, the development of artificial anion transporters (anionophores) is currently a “hot topic” in supramolecular chemistry.

Anion transport through lipid bilayers

Fig. 1. Anion transport through lipid bilayers of synthetic liposomes facilitated by synthetic transporters

Surprisingly however, most of the previous studies in this field were focused on chloride transporters, even though in Nature the transport of other anions also plays a significant role. This is most probably due to the lack of direct and convenient methods to follow the transport of other anions. Our new project aims to develop new, direct methods of measuring anion transport for a broad range of biologically important anions and to use these methods to develop selective artificial anion transporters. One particularly ambitious goal of this project is to develop enantioselective anion transporters, an achievement which has no precedents in literature thus far.

Small molecules able to selectively transport biologically relevant anions, such as basic forms of amino acids, nucleotides, metabolites or drugs, may have interesting biological activity and may find applications in medicine, sensor technology and separation of mixtures, including the mixtures of enantiomers.

Currently, we are looking for prospective MSc and PhD students as well as postdoctoral researchers willing to join the project. We offer state-of-the-art research facilities and attractive fellowships! For more details, contact me via e-mail: mchmielewski@chem.uw.edu.pl or follow the News section on the main page.