Protein conformation can be modulated in response to chemical and physical stimulus arising from interactions with other molecules and as result of chemical modifications. The Protein Dynamics group uses state of the art experimental and computational methods to elucidate the relations between protein conformation and function. One of the focus points of our studies involves the structural dynamics of the proteins in cellular adhesion sites. In particular, we aim for a more complete understanding of the mechanisms behind cellular mechanosensing. The tools and techniques used in our studies involve cellular models, tailored hydrogel substrates for cell adhesion and tumor expansion studies, protein engineering and molecular dynamics simulations. Collaborations with the University of Geneva, the Imperial College of London and the University of Kent are essential for the project.
We develop virus-like particle (VLP) -based experimental vaccines towards both infectious and non-infectious diseases. Among infectious diseases, we have demonstrated the potential of VLPs raising immune response towards noroviruses, enteroviruses and influenza. In the genus of Enteroviruses, vaccines are currently available only against the poliovirus. We are developing novel diagnostic tools and vaccines against enteroviruses, with a focus on virus forms associated with type 1 diabetes. Our project is conducted in close collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet.
Recently we have started a project aiming at VLP-based vaccine against oral microbes associated with cardiovascular diseases in order to prevent cardiovascular events induced by bacteria. In addition to our group, this collaborative project consists of research teams led by Prof. Pekka Karhunen and Prof. Terho Lehtimäki.
We utilize a broad set of biophysical characterization methods, including calorimetry, biosensors and spectroscopic methods. Recombinant proteins and protein engineering are used routinely in our research and our gained expertise is geared towards the development of novel biofunctionalized materials, including nanocellulose, bioactive glass and carbohydrate-protein composite materials.