The Swedish Research Council has awarded funding to five new research projects at Biofilms — Research Center for Biointerfaces. The research will span a range of topics including the development of a drug that can combat antibiotic resistant bacteria.

"It’s incredibly good news, both for the centre in general, and especially for the researchers involved. There are many projects within the applied sciences at the centre, but the Research Council’s contribution provides an opportunity to further strengthen our foundational research, which is an important prerequisite for fruitful collaborative projects in future,” said the Director of Biofilms, Therese Nordström. 

Under the leadership of Professor Börje Sellergren, one group of researchers will develop synthetic models of biological cell membranes. What makes these models unique is their stability, as well as the fact that they are easy to manufacture and adapt for different usages. 

"Using synthetic building blocks, we can control the movement of molecules in the model membrane, thus mimicking the cell membrane's dynamics. This is important for cell behaviour and interaction with other cells, as well as in cases of bacterial and viral infections,” explains Sellergren.

In the long term, this research could contribute to the development of diagnostic tools, or medical solutions to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, it could lead to new possibilities for growing cells for tissue reconstruction in a controlled environment. 

Sellegren has also received funding for a project titled Fiberoptic virus sensors based on nanoplasmonics and reversible self assembled monolayers, which aims to explore the value of a new type of sensor that can detect viruses. 

Professor Marité Cárdenas will be spearheading a research group working on increasing understanding of atherosclerosis. They will study the connection between the structure of lipoproteins and the way that lipoproteins interact with the walls of the arteries, hopefully helping lead to the development of more specific clinical markers that can be used for diagnosing the vascular disease. 

Cárdenas has also been granted funding for a project studying the mechanisms that build biological molecules in plants. By looking into how these mechanisms are regulated, the researchers hope to create biosynthetic cells that could be used in, for instance, the production of medical drugs.  

"Many pharmaceutical substances are currently derived from plants. However, extracting pure components is a major challenge because the substances are only found in low concentrations. Having the ability to produce them through biosynthetic means would be a huge advantage,” said Cárdenas.

Professor Tautgirdas Ruzgas will overseeing a project on the surface reactivity of nanoparticles and how these could potentially enable the construction of new biosensors. 

"There’s a lot of talk at the moment about the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. In order for these types of technology to function in society, we need new wireless and battery-free sensors. I hope our research will contribute to this development,” said Ruzgas.

In addition to the researchers at Biofilms — Research Center for Biointerfaces, Lindsay Richard Merte from the Faculty of Technology and Society has also received funding for a project that seeks to explore the performance of flat materials and how this is linked to atomic level surface structure, using X-ray spectroscopy. This study could, in future, contribute to cheaper and more efficient catalytic converters.