Maths comes to rescue of global human health

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Published: February 3, 2016 7:34:06 PM

Maths is a scary subject for many -- but for scientist at Universities of York in the US and Turin in Italy, advanced calculations can help improve human health globally.

Maths is a scary subject for many — but for scientist at Universities of York in the US and Turin in Italy, advanced calculations can help improve human health globally.

The team used mathematics as a tool to provide precise details of the structure of protein nanoparticles that show great promise as future vaccine carriers and useful in vaccine design.

Working with the researchers from University of Connecticut, they created a complete picture of the surface morphology of these particles.

The nanoparticles self-assemble symmetrically, using protein building blocks to create cage or shell-like architectures.

It serves a range of functions such as storage, catalysis and structural scaffolding or as enclosures for viral genomes.

Using mathematics to predict the geometries of nanoparticles can help scientists to select those whose structures are the most advantageous for the design of new vaccines.

“We have developed a mathematical approach that allows you to identify the surface structures of these nanoparticles that you cannot get from experimentation alone,” said biophysicist Reidun Twarock from University of York in a paper published in the Biophysical Journal.

Mathematics plays an important role here because it acts like a microscope and helps to give researchers insights they couldn’t get experimentally.

“Understanding the geometric principles of the self-assembly to nanoparticles is essential for the successful design and development as vaccines,” the authors noted.

The constant need for vaccine development as new strains of disease evolve has generated a world market worth $56 billion a year.

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