NWO Open Competition Grant for Sabina Caneva
Protein nanopores are the most important molecular gateways in the biological world. They pierce the cell membrane and play a crucial role in regulating the passage of ions and small molecules. Delivering beneficial macromolecules, such as molecular therapeutics, across the cellular membrane is, however, an important problem since protein channels are typically narrow (~3 nm) and with fixed diameters. Synthetic nanopores with larger diameters, which can be engineered to embed in biomembranes, could make significant headway in enabling transport of bulky, clinically-relevant molecules. Sabina Caneva, assistant professor at the department of Precision and Microsystems Engineering, is working on a solution for this problem. In her research project ‘MechanoPore’ she works on the development of programmable, shape-shifting DNA origami nanovalves for size-selective delivery of biomolecules across cell membranes. The NWO Domain Board Science has awarded Caneva for her research in the Open Competition Domain Science-XS.
Sabina Caneva: “With MechanoPore, we will pioneer the first mechanically-adaptable nanopores by uniquely combining DNA origami nanotechnology, machine-inspired design and synthetic biology. Our innovative approach will answer fundamental biophysics questions regarding the dynamics of the shape change, the force balance at the membrane/nanopore interface and the design of a fast and reversible trigger mechanism, opening up an entirely new direction in the nanopore field.”
The NWO Domain Board Science has awarded 26 applications in the Open Competition Domain Science - XS. Each project could apply for a maximum of 50.000 euros. The XS category emphatically strives to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research involving a relatively quick analysis of a promising idea. Read more.
Read more about the research of Sabina Caneva and her lab