We encounter valves every day, whether in the water faucet, the carburetor in our car, or our bicycle tire tube. Valves are also present in the world of nanotechnology. A team of researchers headed by J. Fraser Stoddart and Jeffrey I. Zink at the University of California, Los Angeles, has now developed a new nanovalve.
In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the scientists reveal what is special about it: In contrast to prior versions, which only function in organic solvents, this valve operates in an aqueous environment and under physiological conditions—prerequisites for any application as a gate for nanoscopic drug-transport agents, which need to set their cargo free at the right place and time.
In order for pharmaceuticals to affect only the target diseased organ, suitable nanopackaging is required to bring the drug to the target area and release it only there. One example of a good nanoscopic packaging agent is a tiny sphere of porous silica. Its pores can be filled with the drug and closed with tiny controllable valves.
The scientists attached stem-shaped molecules onto the surface of the porous spheres and filled the pores with guest molecules. At neutral to acidic pH values, they stacked cucurbituril molecules onto these “stems”. Cucurbituril is a fat, ring-shaped molecule reminiscent of a pumpkin that has both ends hollowed out. The resulting supramolecular structure, which resembles a skewered pumpkin and is known to chemists as a pseudorotaxane, blocks the pores, so that the guest molecules cannot exit. The nanovalve is closed.
If the pH value is raised into the basic range, however, the interaction between the “pumpkins” and the “skewers” is weakened, and the pumpkins come off, opening the pores. Now the valves are open and the guest molecules can exit.
At this point the molecular details of the individual components still need to be tweaked. The goal: very small differences in pH values between healthy and diseased tissue should be sufficient to switch the valves and release the drug only in diseased cells.
Author: Jeffrey I. Zink, University of California, Los Angeles (USA), http://www.chem.ucla.edu/dept/Faculty/jzink/
Title: pH-Responsive Supramolecular Nanovalves Based on Cucurbituril Pseudorotaxanes
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 12, 2222–2226, doi: 10.1002/anie.200705211
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine