About molecular machines

Till Boecking

Group Leader

Till Böcking



Molecular machines – what makes them tick?

Machines are at work in your nerve cells, chaperoning molecules together to create large molecular complexes, and stopping the dangerous clumping of certain proteins that could lead to degenerative diseases.

Till Böcking wants to understand how these and other molecular machines work. These machines are essential for many cellular functions throughout the body and their failure can contribute to dementia, cancer and infectious diseases like HIV.

By reconstituting these molecular complexes—and watching them in action using single molecule imaging—Till can see just what is required for the machines to run. He also hopes his findings will help in drug design to improve these machines and fight disease.

We develop fluorescence imaging approaches to visualise the dynamics of self-assembly processes at the single molecule level. The advantage of single molecule measurements is that they can resolve the kinetics of processes without the need for synchronisation and permit the detection of short-lived intermediates in the reaction pathways that are otherwise averaged out in traditional ensemble measurements.

Our work draws on approaches from the physical sciences with development of microfluidic imaging devices, surface chemistry approaches and development of automated image analysis software.