Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NYU chemists discover twisted molecules that pick their targets

12.08.2009
New York University chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist—the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions.

The research, reported in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could yield valuable methods for making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that require precise assembly of complex structures.

The NYU team performs studies in "biomimetic chemistry." This research pursues synthetic molecules with structures and functions resembling molecules found in nature. Many biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA, can fold themselves into ordered helices and bundles.

Within the past decade, scientists have successfully synthesized molecular chains that can also fold into various shapes. Although these "foldamers" resemble biochemical forms, finding mimics of biochemical functions has been more elusive. Now, the NYU chemists are able to create folded molecules that can perform a complex function. In this case, the new molecules are catalysts—substances that speed up the rate of chemical transformations.

The PNAS paper describes how to embed a catalytic chemical group within a larger twisted architecture. The researchers' hypothesis was that the arrangement of the surrounding twist would help determine how contacts could be made between the catalyst and surrounding molecules. To test the functionality of their foldamer, they combined it with a pair of mirror-image molecules—those with identical composition, but whose atoms are distributed in opposing spatial locations, much like left-handed and right-handed gloves—to determine if it could correctly interact with one of the pair in order to form a new chemical. The ability of the foldamer to do so was evidence of its precision.

"Our molecules are particularly interesting in that they are 'selective'—they will recognize one type of target molecule and catalyze its chemical conversion," explained NYU Chemistry Professor Kent Kirshenbaum, one of the study's authors. "This is especially important for making complex chemical structures, so we think this may be eventually useful for the synthesis of new drugs."

"Molecules used in pharmaceuticals have to be manufactured in an extremely specific manner," he added. "The difference in resulting chemicals between two mirror-image molecules could be enormous, so it is crucial that a catalyst correctly make a distinction between similar structures. Once we learn the rules to connect different molecular folds to desired functions, there should be many new tricks and new tasks we can teach our molecules to perform."

The study's other authors were NYU Chemistry Professors Michael Ward, who is also the department's chair, and post-doctoral fellow Galia Maayan. All three are also part of NYU's Molecular Design Institute. For more on NYU's Molecular Design Institute, go to: http://www.nyu.edu/fas/dept/chemistry/mdi/

James Devitt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nyu.edu
http://www.nyu.edu/fas/dept/chemistry/mdi/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Programming cells with computer-like logic
27.07.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics
27.07.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>