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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S002669/1
Title: Evaluation of Potential of Zwitterionic Salts for the Development of Protein-Resistant Surfaces
Principal Investigator: Blesic, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry and Chemical Eng
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2018 Ends: 30 September 2019 Value (£): 110,174
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Chemical Synthetic Methodology Materials Characterisation
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
14 Jun 2018 EPSRC Physical Sciences - June 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Unwanted protein adsorption on medical devices can cause numerous problems such as blood coagulation, inflammation, thrombosis, failure of implants, malfunctioning of biosensors and drug delivery systems, and loss of activity of therapeutically formulated protein solutions. Protein fouling on biotechnological equipment can cause reduced flux through membranes, blocking of separating columns and loss of valuable biomaterials. Since unwanted protein adsorption is a global problem faced by many industries, a lot of efforts have been made to find efficient technology for supressing attachment of proteins on various type of surfaces (metal, polymer, ceramic, silicone). Commonly considered approaches to prevent protein adsorption are based on modification of surfaces of interest by applying coatings formed by self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), grafted polymer layers, and polymer brushes. The coatings support specific functional groups (as zwitterion, hydroxyl) which control surface charge, wettability, hydrophobicity, free energy, and interaction with biomolecules.

The proposed research will evaluate the potential of zwitterionic salt (ZWS)-functionalised coatings and test their potential to suppress protein attachment. ZWSs are a novel class of molecules that combine properties of inorganic salts, ionic liquids and common two-charge zwitterions. ZWSs offer the possibility of functionalization of cation and anion or for use as functional groups attached on long alkyl chains or polymers, and supported on a substrate. They possess four charge centres in their molecules and increased charged surface area leading to strong hydration, as experimentally confirmed. The fact that key underling phenomenon of surface resistance to non-specific protein adsorption is its strong hydration clearly indicates the potential of ZWSs in the proposed application. The project aims to provide understanding at a fundamental level of the interactions between ZWSs, water and proteins through the a range of analytical techniques and scientific methods. These interactions will be reflected in the performances of zwitterionic salt (ZWS)-functionalised coatings, but they will also guide future research strategies and applications.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk