Protein nanopatterning concerns the geometric arrangement of individual proteins with nanometre accuracy. Protein nanopatterns are essential for cellular function, and have roles in cell signalling and protection, phagocytosis and stem cell differentiation.

Recent research indicates that our immune system is activated by nanopatterned antibody platforms, which initiate the classical Complement pathway by binding to the first component of Complement, the C1 complex. DNA nanotechnology can be used to form self-assembled nanoscale structures, which are ideal for use as templates to pattern proteins with specific geometries and nanometre accuracy. Our research uses DNA to nanopattern antigens and agonistic aptamers with defined geometry to study and control Complement pathway activation by the C1 complex. This will allow direct targeting of Complement activation to specific cells within a population of cell types to perform targeted cell killing, opening up new and highly efficient ways to activate our immune system in vivo, with potential for targeted anti-tumour immunotherapies.

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