Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemists Discover Twisted Molecules That Pick Their Targets

Date:
August 15, 2009
Source:
New York University
Summary:
Chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist -- the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions. The research could yield valuable methods for making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that require precise assembly of complex structures.

A folded molecule is a new type of catalyst, and can selectively speed chemical reactions. A chain-like molecule (grey, lower right) was designed to fold in a helical pattern, mimicking the folding of peptides found in nature. This arrangement allows it to selectively interact with a pair of mirror-image chemical compounds (in green). The trajectory depicts how the folded molecule interacts with only one member of the pair, and selectively accelerates its conversion to a new chemical form.
Credit: Image courtesy of New York University

New York University chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist—the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions. The research, reported in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could yield valuable methods for making pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that require precise assembly of complex structures.

The NYU team performs studies in "biomimetic chemistry." This research pursues synthetic molecules with structures and functions resembling molecules found in nature. Many biological molecules, such as proteins and DNA, can fold themselves into ordered helices and bundles. Within the past decade, scientists have successfully synthesized molecular chains that can also fold into various shapes. Although these "foldamers" resemble biochemical forms, finding mimics of biochemical functions has been more elusive. Now, the NYU chemists are able to create folded molecules that can perform a complex function. In this case, the new molecules are catalysts—substances that speed up the rate of chemical transformations.

The PNAS paper describes how to embed a catalytic chemical group within a larger twisted architecture. The researchers' hypothesis was that the arrangement of the surrounding twist would help determine how contacts could be made between the catalyst and surrounding molecules. To test the functionality of their foldamer, they combined it with a pair of mirror-image molecules—those with identical composition, but whose atoms are distributed in opposing spatial locations, much like left-handed and right-handed gloves—to determine if it could correctly interact with one of the pair in order to form a new chemical. The ability of the foldamer to do so was evidence of its precision.

"Our molecules are particularly interesting in that they are 'selective'—they will recognize one type of target molecule and catalyze its chemical conversion," explained NYU Chemistry Professor Kent Kirshenbaum, one of the study's authors. "This is especially important for making complex chemical structures, so we think this may be eventually useful for the synthesis of new drugs."

"Molecules used in pharmaceuticals have to be manufactured in an extremely specific manner," he added. "The difference in resulting chemicals between two mirror-image molecules could be enormous, so it is crucial that a catalyst correctly make a distinction between similar structures. Once we learn the rules to connect different molecular folds to desired functions, there should be many new tricks and new tasks we can teach our molecules to perform."

The study's other authors were NYU Chemistry Professors Michael Ward, who is also the department's chair, and post-doctoral fellow Galia Maayan. All three are also part of NYU's Molecular Design Institute. For more on NYU's Molecular Design Institute, go to: http://www.nyu.edu/fas/dept/chemistry/mdi/


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

New York University. "Chemists Discover Twisted Molecules That Pick Their Targets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162003.htm>.
New York University. (2009, August 15). Chemists Discover Twisted Molecules That Pick Their Targets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162003.htm
New York University. "Chemists Discover Twisted Molecules That Pick Their Targets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810162003.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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