Scientists make gel discovery breakthrough

A new screening method will accurately predict how peptides could form gels

Manufacturers could soon be able to simplify the discovery of biological gels for use in cosmetics, following a breakthrough by scientists at City University of New York and the University of Strathclyde.

The scientists, who published their research in the journal Nature Chemistry, made a breakthrough that they believe dramatically simplifies the discovery of functional gels. The gels in question could be used in food and biomedicine, as well as cosmetics.

The breakthrough involves an advanced screening method that accurately predicts how peptides could combine to form stable gels. Prior to the discovery, there was no reliable way to predict whether a peptide would form a gel – much of the process was left to chance.

As reported on phys.org, Strathclyde's Dr Tell Tuttle said: “There are 8,000 possible tripeptides and we have developed computational methods to predict which of these could be used to develop materials with desirable properties.

"These methods led to the discovery of a new family of simple tripeptides that are able to form hydrogels at neutral pH. These materials are much simpler compared to the gels of biological systems but they have some interesting properties that may be exploited in various areas, such as cell culture and ingredients for cosmetics."