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
To proliferate or not to proliferate
21.03.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik
Discovery of a Primordial Metabolism in Microbes
21.03.2019 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum
For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
21.03.2019 | Life Sciences
21.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2019 | HANNOVER MESSE