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Study of the interaction of toxic constituents with biomolecules towards application in environmental analysis (METCAP)
Start date: Feb 29, 2012, End date: Aug 30, 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Heavy metal ions appear in the environment from natural or non-natural sources, and they present a hazard to living organisms. Different organisms have developed defence mechanisms towards toxic metal ion shocks, including e.g. complex formation or the enhanced production of metal-binding proteins or oligo-peptides. Inspired by the metal ion binding domains of metal-regulatory proteins a cross-border project is initiated aiming at the design and synthesis of short oligo-peptides for efficient and selective binding of toxic constituents e.g. Hg(II), Cd(II) or As(III). Equilibrium and solution structural studies on the peptide - metal ion interactions, and the ability of the immobilized molecules in capturing toxic ions from aqueous solutions and from environmental matrices are investigated in a close collaboration between the two partners, Szegedi Tudományegyetem and Universitatea "Politehnica" din Timisoara. The studies are extended towards the testing of the biomolecules for potential sensor applications. The project should result in a long-term cooperation between the partners and facilitate the mobility and training of graduate students at both sides of the border.The general objective of the project is construction and characterization of models that promote the development of analytical tools for the detection of environmental contaminants.The direct beneficiaries are the participating members from the two collaborating partners. The grant could obviously enhance the research activities of the partners and initiate further cross-border cooperation between the presently collaborating teams or others in the region. In numbers, the direct beneficiaries involve 13 researchers and 4 PhD students from the two partners and ~15 other students (MSc / BSc level) who can be directly involved in the research at the two universities. The main specific activities of the project are: allocation and purchase of instrumentation, biomolecule synthesis, study of the interaction of biomolecules with metal ions, assessment of the analytical potential of metal ion capture by biomolecules.

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