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Researchers Apply Mathematical Principles To Boost The Science Of Vaccine Design

Scientists from the Universities of York, Torino and Connecticut have predicted the morphological structure of self-assembling protein nano-particles by using a mathematical model. Nano particles create symmetrical 3D folds over proteins, generating cage or shell-like architectures which serve the purpose of storage, catalysis, structural scaffolding or as enclosures for viral genomes. Though the structure could be seen using electron microscopy and neutron scattering, the technology had limited effectiveness for researchers trying to develop a precise morphology of SANPs.

The novel mathematical approach to the nanoparticle’s geometry proved its potential worth in designing new vaccines. Recently, vaccine development has raised an astonishing $56 billion a year due to the sudden occurrence of various unknown diseases. As a reliable solution, scientists from across the world concentrated on artificial SAPNs designed by Professor Peter Burkhard, a structural biophysicist at the University of Connecticut. Possessing a prospective binding factor, chemical attachment to antigens from pathogens with nanoparticles fabricate simple, potent and cost-effective vaccines.

Researchers at York and Torino, led by biophysicist Professor Reidun Twarock of the University of York’s York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis and the Departments of Mathematics and Biology, sought the assistance of tiling theory, which is a mathematical model used to predict the symmetric classification of different particle morphologies of SAPNs. Professor Twarock claimed that switching to tiling approach helped them considerably in modelling SANPs structure with enhanced accuracy.

Team member Professor Burkhard explained that protein nanoparticles showed great promise as the constituent of future vaccine carriers and that our malaria vaccine would be tested in a clinical setting within the next year. The related research paper titled ‘Principles Governing the Self-Assembly of Coiled-Coil Protein Nanoparticles’ was published in the ‘Biophysical Journal’.

Source: University of York | Biophysical journal

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