Unravelling the molecular mechanism of animal adhesive secretions to widen the horizons for new bio-inspired materials.

Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively


Nature presents scientists an almost endless number of molecular
systems and mechanisms yet to be understood. Through the slow
but powerful process of evolution, animals have developed efficient
solutions to core problems that science struggles to overcome. Over
these millions of years, some species have developed the ability to
produce adhesive secreted substances (which might be called
"natural glues") used to either attach themselves to surfaces or
immobilise prey. Since the moment of its discovery, scientists have
tried to understand how these adhesive material work and to develop
mimicking material capable of doing the same. The advantage of
such material would be their vast applicability in the fields of
medicine (for wound healing and microsurgery) and biotechnology
(3D-printing of organic materials e.g. tissues, organs). Unfortunately,
although limited information about the biochemical characteristics of
adhesive secretions have been described for some species (with a
particular focus on mussels), many still remain uncharacterised. Our
goal is to analyse adhesives from three different species, in order to
develop bio-inspired material for biotechnological applications.
Granting OrganisationsResearch Foundation - Flanders