Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents

Enzyme nanobots pump fluid and convert nerve agents into harmless products. Credit: Ayusman Sen

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.

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

Media Contact

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D. EurekAlert!

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Life Sciences

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Flash graphene rocks strategy for plastic waste

Rice University lab detours potential environmental hazard into useful material. Plastic waste comes back in black as pristine graphene, thanks to ACDC. That’s what Rice University scientists call the process…

Towards next-generation molecule-based magnets

Magnets are to be found everywhere in our daily lives, whether in satellites, telephones or on fridge doors. However, they are made up of heavy inorganic materials whose component elements…

Order in the disorder …

… density fluctuations in amorphous silicon discovered Silicon does not have to be crystalline, but can also be produced as an amorphous thin film. In such amorphous films, the atomic…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close