Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents

21.08.2018

Once in the territory of science fiction, "nanobots" are closer than ever to becoming a reality, with possible applications in medicine, manufacturing, robotics and fluidics. Today, scientists report progress in developing the tiny machines: They have made nanobot pumps that destroy nerve agents, while simultaneously administering an antidote.

The researchers will present their results today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.


Enzyme nanobots pump fluid and convert nerve agents into harmless products.

Credit: Ayusman Sen

According to Ayusman Sen, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator, this study arose from more general research aimed at making nanobots from enzymes. "We have been looking at how to convert chemical energy into motion," he says. "We take the energy that's generated from catalytic reactions to cause the motion of enzymes."

To make his nanobots, Sen and his group at The Pennsylvania State University used enzymes found in nature. These are proteins that help specific chemical reactions occur, converting a reactant (raw material) into a product.

The realization that enzymes can move when catalyzing a reaction is a relatively new discovery. Previously, scientists thought that these proteins drifted along in the cytoplasm of the cell by passive diffusion, encountering their reactants and other enzymes by more-or-less chance interactions. However, Sen and others have recently shown that when enzymes catalyze a reaction, they move.

Researchers still aren't sure how this motion occurs, but it likely involves a change in the shape of the enzyme upon catalysis. Sen's group has shown that these proteins can even swim along a path toward higher levels of reactant. These features make enzymes an attractive material for developing nanobots.

"If we take enzymes and anchor them to a surface so they cannot move, and we give them their reactant, they end up pumping the fluid surrounding them," Sen says. "So they act as miniature fluid pumps that can be used for a variety of applications." He notes that the nanobots pump liquid at the rate of several microliters¬ --- or millionths of a liter -- per second.

Sen and his coworkers made nanobots to neutralize organophosphates, a class of nerve agents. Exposure to these chemicals during military combat or terrorist attacks can cause permanent neurological damage, and in some cases, death. An enzyme, called organophosphorus acid anhydrolase, can destroy these nerve agents. The researchers immobilized this enzyme on a gel that also contained an antidote. Exposure to organophosphates activates the enzyme.

"The enzyme actively pumps in the organosphosphate compound and destroys it, and at the same time pumps out an antidote," Sen says. Importantly, the system requires no external power source because the enzyme is fueled by the organophosphate reactant.

The nanobot pumps might someday be incorporated into protective clothing for the military or first responders, Sen says. He is also exploring applications for nanobots based on other enzymes, for example, an insulin-pumping device to treat diabetes and an enzyme-powered drug-delivery system. The Pennsylvania State University has filed a patent application on the promising new technology. "If you want to make pumps that will pump very small amounts of liquid in a very precise way, this is one way to do that," Sen says.

###

A press conference on this topic will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Reporters may check-in at the press center, Room 102A, or watch live on Youtube http://bit.ly/ACSLive_Boston2018. To ask questions online, sign in with a Google account.

The researchers acknowledge support and funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive press releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

Title

Designing self-powered nanobots

Abstract

Self-powered nano and microscale moving systems are currently the subject of intense interest due in part to their potential applications in nanomachinery, nanoscale assembly, robotics, fluidics, and chemical/biochemical sensing. One of the more interesting recent discoveries has been the ability to design nano/microparticles, including molecules, which catalytically harness the chemical energy in their environment to move autonomously. These "bots" can be directed by chemical and light gradients. Further, our group has developed systems in which chemical secretions from the translating micro/nanomotors initiate long-range, collective interactions among the particles. This behavior is reminiscent of quorum sensing organisms that swarm in response to a minimum threshold concentration of a signaling chemical. In addition, an object that moves by generating a continuous surface force in a fluid can, in principle, be used to pump the fluid by the same catalytic mechanism. Thus, by immobilizing the nano/micromotors, we have developed nano/microfluidic pumps that transduce energy catalytically. These non-mechanical pumps provide precise control over flow rate without the aid of an external power source and are capable of turning on in response to specific analytes in solution.

Media Contact

ACS Press Center in Boston, Aug. 19-22
617-954-3960
newsroom@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.
301-775-8455
k_cottingham@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D. | EurekAlert!

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A cavity leads to a strong interaction between light and matter

Researchers have succeeded in creating an efficient quantum-mechanical light-matter interface using a microscopic cavity. Within this cavity, a single photon is emitted and absorbed up to 10 times by an artificial atom. This opens up new prospects for quantum technology, report physicists at the University of Basel and Ruhr-University Bochum in the journal Nature.

Quantum physics describes photons as light particles. Achieving an interaction between a single photon and a single atom is a huge challenge due to the tiny...

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Kirigami inspires new method for wearable sensors

22.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

3D printing, bioinks create implantable blood vessels

22.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

Ionic channels in carbon electrodes for efficient electrochemical energy storage

22.10.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>