JUNE 2017: Nanoparticle technologies for membrane protein research

Membrane technology meeting: Nanoparticle technologies for membrane protein research – June 27 & 28 2017


“This was a great meeting.  The SMALP field is relatively young and speakers and participants from aligned areas which are more advanced gave us a really good idea as to where we should be going as a community.”


Membrane proteins are notoriously difficult to study, with traditional methods involving solubilisation from their native lipid membrane in detergents.  This can have deleterious effects on both protein structure and function.  The use of various lipid nanoparticles and alternatives to detergents has led to a recent boom in information on membrane proteins.

The event brought together around 100 academic scientists at all levels and an array of industrialists, all with interests in membrane proteins and the lipid environment in which they reside.

The first talk by Tony Watts gave an indication of the scope of the meeting – ranging from molecular level detail to the use of nanoparticles in treating disease.  A programme of excellent talks followed including a thorough biophysical examination of SMALPs by Sandro Keller and a lovely overview of the SMALP field by Tim Dafforn.

Dr Alan Goddard, CBMNet Management Board member spoke about CBMNet and what we can offer academics and industry.

The plenary speaker, Stephen Sligar showed a tour de force of Nanodisc investigations which pointed the way forward for applications of SMALPs.  This was complemented by a great talk by Jean-Luc Popot on the use of amphipols, highlighting the range of reagents now available to study membrane proteins.

The meeting finished with a number of presentations by early career researchers who presented some fascinating findings in an impressive manner.  With plenty of opportunities for networking and exchange of ideas, this was a really fruitful meeting.