Dr. Alex Mason
Alex Mason received his BSc (Honours) in Nanotechnology from the University of New South Wales, located in Sydney, Australia (2012). He continued his studies there, working in the group of Prof. Pall Thordarson where he received his PhD in chemistry for the thesis entitled, “Polymersomes as Synthetic Cell Scaffolds” (2016). His interests and expertise in self-assembly, chemical biology, and artificial cells have brought him to TU/e, working in the van Hest group as a postdoctoral researcher.
1. Artificial cells
This project utilizes the self-assembly chemically accessible materials such as block copolymers and proteins to construct complex systems that begin to resemble the natural cell in both structure and function, or so called “protocells”. The de novo synthesis of a cell will undoubtedly have significant impacts on our knowledge of the natural cell and lead to the development of “living” technology, but will also contribute to understanding the precise chemical conditions required for the origin of life. There is significant scope for expansion of this project, for example exploring communication between populations of protocells and using these protocells as a framework to study membrane proteins.
The delivery of nanoscopically “large” objects to the cytosol of the cell is not a trivial task if you want to avoid the low pH environment of the endo-/lysosomal pathway. Polymersomes present an ideal system for cytosolic delivery as we can significantly alter their surface chemistry and design delivery pathways for sensitive cargoes such as protein drugs.
1. Mason, A. F., Thordarson, P. “Polymersomes with asymmetric membranes based on readily accessible di- and triblock copolymers synthesized via SET-LRP” ACS. Macro. Lett. 2016, 5, 1172-1175.
2. Mason, A. F., Thordarson, P. “Synthesis of Protein Bioconjugates via Cysteine-Maleimide Chemistry”. J. Vis. Exp. 2016 113, e54157.
3. Wojciechowski, J. P., Martin, A. D., Mason, A. F., Fife, C. M., Kavallaris, M., Sagnella, S. M., Thordarson, P. “Capping group choice in tripeptide hydrogels influences biocompatibility in the 3D cell culture of tumour spheroids”. ChemPlusChem. 2016, 82, 383-389
4. Martin, A. D., Robinson, A. B., Mason, A. F., Wojciechowski, J. P. & Thordarson, P. “Exceptionally strong hydrogels through self-assembly of an indole-capped dipeptide.” Chem. Commun. 2014, 50, 15541–15544.
5. Hvasanov, D., Mason, A. F., Goldstein, D. C., Bhadbhade, M. & Thordarson, P. “Optimising the synthesis, polymer membrane encapsulation and photoreduction performance of Ru(II)- and Ir(III)-bis(terpyridine) cytochrome c bioconjugates.” Org. Biomol. Chem. 2013 11, 4602–12.