Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein-Like Molecules Could Form Medical Devices, Electronics

Date:
September 24, 2001
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
A new kind of artificial protein-like molecule created at Ohio State University could one day lead to new drugs, new medical treatments -- and even faster computer chips.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new kind of artificial protein-like molecule created at Ohio State University could one day lead to new drugs, new medical treatments -- and even faster computer chips.

"Proteins come in so many shapes and sizes that they are able to perform a wide variety of functions," said Jonathan Parquette, assistant professor of chemistry at Ohio State. "We wanted to mimic that versatile structure in a synthetic form."

Parquette and his students built the molecules, called dendrimers, from tiny, spaghetti-like plastic filaments. Researchers have long tried to mimic the shape of proteins using dendrimers, but the Ohio State group is the first to coax the soft, tangled filaments to maintain a shape that suits needed applications.

The molecule is shaped like a sphere, supported by branching beams of polymer inside, with hollow portions that could theoretically hold drugs or other chemicals. Parquette described his work September 23 at the BioMEMS and Biomedical Nanotechnology World 2001 meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

BioMEMS, or biomedical microelectromechanical systems, are microscopic medical devices under development around the world. The tiny devices can be as small as a few millionths of a meter -- much smaller than the width of a human hair.

Parquette's synthetic protein molecule belongs to the realm of nanotechnology, which concerns devices even smaller than bioMEMS. The molecule is about the same size as a small protein or a short sequence of DNA -- a few tens of atoms across.

The chemists are working toward developing the molecule into a larger, more complex structure.

Ultimately, synthetic proteins could act as devices to deliver medicine to tumors or other sites of disease in the body. They could also act as catalysts for chemical reactions that produce drugs, or form computer chips for light-responsive molecular electronics.

For these molecules to perform such tasks, the outer shell would have to open and close on cue, Parquette explained. A molecule could locate a tumor, for instance, and unravel its structure to release cancer-fighting medicine from within.

"Along the outside of the molecule, the atoms fasten together like a zipper," Parquette explained. "Getting them to zip up is half the puzzle. Getting them to unzip on demand is the other half."

With chemicals, the researchers caused the normally long, stringy dendrimers to fold into a protein-like shape. Then they added other chemicals that bound themselves to select sites along the dendrimers, effectively zipping together layers of folds and stiffening the structure overall.

Currently, Parquette and his colleagues are investigating whether light could be used as a stimulus to make the dendrimers unfold. If so, the protein-like molecules could form the basis for extremely tiny, very fast computer chips.

Whereas semiconductor computer chips carry a digital signal of "one" or "zero" based on the presence of an electron, molecular computer chips stimulated by light from fiber optics could carry a signal based on whether individual molecules were "zipped" or "unzipped."

For Parquette, this work has helped to explain how nature builds its own micrometer- and nanometer-size structures.

"On the nanoscale, it seems that atoms have a way of cooperating together to assume certain structures for specific functions. If we can learn to harness that cooperativity, we may be able to form better synthetic molecules," Parquette said.

"As soon as you think you're pretty smart about something, it turns out nature has thought of it first," he said with a smile.

This work was supported by Parquette's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Protein-Like Molecules Could Form Medical Devices, Electronics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010924061438.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2001, September 24). Protein-Like Molecules Could Form Medical Devices, Electronics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010924061438.htm
Ohio State University. "Protein-Like Molecules Could Form Medical Devices, Electronics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010924061438.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins