$1.1 Million Granted for Ion Atmospheres in Biological Systems Study

By Trish Svoboda

Chemists at Kansas State University, led by Professor Paul Smith, are developing an improved method to study ion atmospheres critical for modulating interactions with biomolecules like proteins, DNA, RNA, and lipids, as stated in a news release. Smith, along with Elizabeth Ploetz, a postdoctoral research associate in Smith’s laboratory, secured a $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the study, “Theory and Simulation of Local Electroneutrality and Ion Atmospheres in Biological Systems.”

Experimental studies examining the details of ion atmospheres around electrically charged biomolecules are challenging due to weak ion binding. Smith’s team uses local electroneutrality relationships and an exact theory of solutions, to gain new perspectives on ion distributions. Later, they validate the predicted outcomes through molecular simulation.

This research can help decipher current data on charged interactions between proteins, involved in numerous mechanisms influencing physiology and pathophysiology, which is important for both human health and the biotechnology industry, as well as for research into non-biological ion atmospheres.

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