Researchers at the University of Basel have succeeded in building protein gates for artificial nano-vesicles that become transparent only under specific conditions. The gate responds to certain pH values, triggering a reaction and releasing active agents at the desired location. This is demonstrated in a study published in the journal Nano Letters.
Tiny nanovesicles can protect active agents until they arrive in specific environments, such as at the target site in the body. In order to trigger a chemical reaction and release the contents at that location, the outer casing of the synthetically produced vesicles must become permeable at the correct point in time.
Working under Prof. Cornelia Palivan, researchers from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute have now developed a membrane gate that opens on demand. This means that the enzymes inside a nanocapsule become active under exactly the right conditions and act on the diseased tissue directly.
Reacting to changes in pH
The gate is made up of the chemically modified membrane protein OmpF, which responds to certain pH values. At neutral pH in the human body, the membrane is impermeable – but if it encounters a region with acidic pH, the protein gate opens and substances from the surrounding area can enter the nanocapsule.
In the resulting enzymatic reaction, the capsule’s contents act on the incoming substrate and the product of this reaction is released. This method could be applied, for example, to inflamed or cancerous tissue, which often exhibits a slightly acidic pH value.
Until now, permeability in nanovesicles has been achieved using natural proteins that operate as pores in the protective membrane, allowing both the substrate to enter and the product of the enzymatic reaction to escape.
However, fields such as medicine or controlled catalysis call for more precise distribution in order to achieve the greatest possible efficiency of the active agent. In collaboration with Prof. Wolfgang Meier’s team, the chemists working under Prof. Palivan were able for the first time to integrate a modified membrane protein into an artificially produced nanocapsule, which opened only if it encountered corresponding pH values.
The experiments performed at the university are part of the National Center of Competence in Research Molecular Systems Engineering (NCCR MSE), and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI).
T. Einfalt, R. Goers, I.A. Dinu, A. Najer, M. Spulber, O. Onaca-Fischer, C. G. Palivan
Stimuli-triggered activity of nanoreactors by biomimetic engineering polymer membranes
Nano Letters ¦ doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b03386
Tomaz Einfalt, University of Basel, Department of Chemistry, Swiss Nanoscience Institute, tel. +41 61 26 7 38 37 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences