Particle physics laboratory

King Academics Receive National Physics Laboratory’s Most Prestigious Award

Study on New Preclinical Therapeutic Paradigm for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance Wins Rayleigh Prize for Most Outstanding Published Article.

I am honored for such an award in our truly interdisciplinary endeavor. I believe that molecular simulations and protein design are becoming essential tools in elucidating molecular mechanisms that are often inaccessible to direct experimentation. We are fortunate to be a part of this exciting time for structural and computational biology. The successes of Alphafold and Deepmind in the field clearly demonstrate that computing is an essential part of modern science. “- Professor Franca Fraternali

This interdisciplinary work presents a new preclinical therapeutic paradigm for combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by applying geometric principles to the design of artificial capsids or pseudo-viral particles with specific biological functions. The experimental design draws on cutting-edge molecular dynamics to extract new design principles from antimicrobial agents with predictable properties.

King’s team performed simulations of antimicrobial peptide nanoparticles, which provided: (a) a detailed description of the interactions at the molecular level that are essential for the formation and stabilization of antimicrobial peptide nanoparticles, (b ) an understanding of the general structure of peptides within nanoparticles and (c) a detailed description of the mechanism of action of the resulting nanoparticles when interacting with model bacterial membranes – which perfectly complement the experimental work carried out in the groups of the NPL, University of Cambridge, University of Exeter and UCL.

peptide nanoparticles
Structure of peptide nanoparticles – this figure shows the distribution of peptides in the nanoparticle shell and the empty core of the nanoparticle in which other therapies could be encapsulated.

I am very happy that this article has been recognized by the NPL as I think it is a nice demonstration of the level of understanding that can be obtained from an interdisciplinary study that provides insight at different scales ( in this case, from molecular to cellular). The computer modeling done at King’s for this study is a perfect example of how these tools can be used to aid design and provide a molecular-scale understanding of the structure and function of therapeutic nanoparticles, which is currently not obtainable through experimentation. Professor Chris Lorenz

The Rayleigh Award is very competitive and papers are judged on their creativity and novelty, breadth and quality of scientific inquiry, potential impact, clarity and accessibility.

The Rayleigh Prize is named after John William Strutt Rayleigh, chairman of the government committee that recommended the formation of NPL in 1897.

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