New Metal-organic frameworks for Biomacromolecule Protection

This chemistry honours project will investigate new metal-organic frameworks for biomacromolecule encapsulation and protection.

The protection of biomolecules (proteins, enzymes, vaccines) underpins their use as therapeutics and for biocatalysis (use in chemical synthesis).

Recently, it has been demonstrated that a Metal-organic Framework (MOF) called Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework-8 (ZIF-8) shows a remarkable capacity to protect biomacromolecules from elevated temperatures, denaturing agents and organic solvents.[1]

The MOF coating grows around the biomolecule, in a process called biomimetic mineralisation, protecting it from harsh external environments but still allowing transport of small molecules to the enzyme active site if required. Despite there being >20,000 MOFs reported, currently there are only a handful of materials capable of affording protection to biomacromolecules in this way.[2]

This project will use our knowledge of MOF chemistry to identify new target frameworks for use in biomolecule encapsulation.

In particular the project will target the use of MOFs that are considered 'biofriendly', have larger pore sizes that the current ZIF materials and may afford additional protection to non-standard pH or other abiological conditions.


  1. Original report: Liang, K.; et al., Biomimetic mineralization of metal-organic frameworks as protective coatings for biomacromolecules. Nat. Commun. 2015, 6, 7240.
  2. Liang, W.; et al., Enhanced activity of enzymes encapsulated in hydrophilic metal-organic frameworks, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, 141, 2348-2355.
Professor Chris Sumby


Professor Christopher Sumby

Co-supervisorsProfessor Christian Doonan

Research area: Macromolecular chemistry, MOFs, Porous materials, Protein therapeutics - Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials

Recommended honours enrolmentHonours in Chemistry

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