Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Antibody against carcinogenic substance deciphered

13.07.2017

Summertime is barbecue time. However, when fat reacts with glowing coal, a substance chemists call benzopyrene is created. It is a widespread environmental toxin that can cause cancer in humans. Since buildings were heated with coal and wood for decades, dispersed by chimney smoke, it is now also found in soil and groundwater. A team led by Prof. Arne Skerra from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has deciphered the binding mechanism of an antibody to benzopyrene — a discovery that could pave the way for an easier method to identify and, hence, remove the toxin.

During the incomplete combustion of organic substances polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are created. The most well-known of these substances is benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) due to its high toxicity and its facile identification. Hence, it is generally used as a marker for the prevalence of PAHs. In the human body, PAHs substances are converted into molecules that may cause genetic variations (mutations), which in the worst case results in tumors. Hence, PAHs are seen as hazardous substances or environmental toxins.


When fat reacts with glowing coal at a barbecue, a substance chemists call benzopyrene is created. It is a widespread environmental toxin that can cause cancer in humans.

Photo: Fotolia/Dederer

Source: TUM

PAHs are released during the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels

Apart from the barbecuing of sausages, steaks or vegetables, significant amounts of PAHs are also created when smoking tobacco, which is why even passive smoking is now considered as being carcinogenic. Similarly, open fireplaces in apartments and vehicle exhausts are also seen as sources of PAHs. PAHs emitted into the air by the burning of fossil fuels remain there or bind to soot particles. By way of precipitation, they can then accumulate in the soil, on playgrounds, and in groundwater, ultimately also ending up in drinking water.

Because benzo[a]pyrene is highly carcinogenic, European directives specify a limit for the maximum amount of this substance in drinking water (10 ng/L for BaP). However, in order to measure such minute values, highly sensitive methods are needed. The team led by Prof. Arne Skerra from the Chair of Biological Chemistry in Weihenstephan and Prof. Dietmar Knopp from the Chair of Analytical Chemistry in Grosshadern have succeeded in identifying an antibody that tightly binds benzo[a]pyrene. They describe the complicated binding mechanism in the current issue of the specialist journal "Angewandte Chemie International Edition" (lit. "Applied Chemistry").

"We now know how the binding of the antibody to benzo[a]pyrene, a peculiar organic compound, takes place", says Prof. Skerra, "allowing us to possibly develop antibodies against other PAHs as well. Hence, in the next step, it is conceivable that such antibodies may be used to separate aromatic hydrocarbons from contaminated drinking water, for example."

However, whether the scientists' discovery can eliminate the hazards of eating barbecue sausages is a different matter. Until then, barbecue fans should not grill their meat too long nor at a too high temperature, and also prevent meat juice and fat from dripping into the hot coal if possible.

Publikation:
Andreas Eichinger, Irmgard Neumaier, Michael Pschenitza, Reinhard Niessner, Dietmar Knopp und Arne Skerra: Tight molecular recognition of benzo[a]pyrene by a high affinity antibody, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 6/2017. DOI: 10.1002/anie.201703893

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Arne Skerra
Chair of Biological Chemistry
Technical University of Munich
Phone: +49/8161/71-4351
Mail: skerra@tum.de
http://www.wzw.tum.de/bc

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Knopp
Technical University of Munich
Chair of Analytical Chemistry
Phone: +49/89/2180-78241
Mail: dietmar.knopp@ch.tum.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/34067/

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Kidney tumor: Genetic trigger discovered
18.06.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New type of photosynthesis discovered
18.06.2018 | Imperial College London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks

18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Diamond watch components

18.06.2018 | Process Engineering

New type of photosynthesis discovered

18.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>