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!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Breakthrough in designing a better Salmonella vaccine
25.09.2018 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Proof of Concept: Gene therapy for mitochondrial diseases
25.09.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biologie des Alterns

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Hygiene at your fingertips with the new CleanHand Network

The Fraunhofer FEP has been involved in developing processes and equipment for cleaning, sterilization, and surface modification for decades. The CleanHand Network for development of systems and technologies to clean surfaces, materials, and objects was established in May 2018 to bundle the expertise of many partnering organizations. As a partner in the CleanHand Network, Fraunhofer FEP will present the Network and current research topics of the Institute in the field of hygiene and cleaning at the parts2clean trade fair, October 23-25, 2018 in Stuttgart, at the booth of the Fraunhofer Cleaning Technology Alliance (Hall 5, Booth C31).

Test reports and studies on the cleanliness of European motorway rest areas, hotel beds, and outdoor pools increasingly appear in the press, especially during...

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Establishing metastasis

25.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

Artificial intelligence to improve drug combination design & personalized medicine

25.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

Small modulator for big data

25.09.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>