MAR 14, 2020 10:58 AM PDT

Scientists Developed "Molecular Drills" to Treat Skin Diseases

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

(NEOSiAM/Pexels)

Molecular machines are small chemical structures that are capable of mechanical movements similar to their macroscopic counterparts, except they are in the size ranging from nanometers to sub-micrometer.

In a recent report, a team of U.S. scientists claimed that they developed novel miniature machines that can help doctors target drug-resistant skin lesions, by drilling through layers of eukaryotic cells.

Molecular machines are everywhere. The human body uses macromolecules such as ATPases to synthesize ATP, DNA polymerases to assemble new DNA strands, and dyneins and kinesins to transport protein and other important cargos. The field of artificial molecular machinery focuses on the development of small organic compounds that are capable of mechanical tasks, such as molecular propeller, molecular switches, and nano-cars.

The 2016 Chemistry Nobel was awarded to three pioneers in the field, Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and Bernard L. Feringa, to honor their research on the design and synthesis of molecular machines.

In the current collaborative project, researchers from Rice University, Biola University, and the Texas A&M Health Science Center came up with five different designs of molecular nanomachines (MNMs) that shared a feature: upon exposure to light of certain wavelength, they can rotate like a hand drill, some fast and some slow.

The same group previously tested similar MNMs on synthetic cellular membranes, cancer cells, and bacterial cells, all of which showed mechanical damages in their in vitro experiments. The current study aimed to investigate what kind of destructive effects these MNMs would cause in three multi-cellular organisms in vivo, C. elegans worms, water fleas, and mice.

The fast-rotating variety of the "molecular drills" exhibited high potentials as a therapeutic device: they killed 70% of the test C. elegans and caused discoloration on their bodies; for the water fleas, the MNMs managed to reduce their swimming activity, heart rate, and damage their tissues; on mice, the MNMs were applied directly on their skin, which lead to ulceration and micro-lesions in the epithelial tissue.

In a press release, James Tour, a Rice chemist and the co-leader of the project, commented on their research: "Now it has been taken to a whole new level. The work here shows that whole organisms, such as small worms and water fleas, can be killed by nanomachines that drill into them. This is not just single-cell death, but whole organism, with cell death in the millions."

The researchers published their results in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Interested in finding more about molecular machines? Check out the following video from ACS Reactions

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: Molecular Machines, Explained (Reactions)

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
AUG 11, 2021
Earth & The Environment
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
AUG 11, 2021
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
On Monday, August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of their newest set of cl ...
SEP 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Drug Test for Synthetic Cannabis Use
SEP 09, 2021
A Drug Test for Synthetic Cannabis Use
Designer drugs are synthetic analogs of prohibited substances such as cocaine and LSD made in clandestine laboratories a ...
SEP 28, 2021
Earth & The Environment
How to Save the World's Coral Reefs? Global Reforestation
SEP 28, 2021
How to Save the World's Coral Reefs? Global Reforestation
With recent news of the world's coral supply standing at just 50% of what it was in the 1950s, any strategies for protec ...
OCT 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
OCT 21, 2021
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
A new open access study published in Nature yesterday showcases a relatively new method in archaeology. In an attempt to ...
OCT 31, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Create & Sustain Otherworldly 'Superionic' Ice
OCT 31, 2021
Researchers Create & Sustain Otherworldly 'Superionic' Ice
Water can assume an astonishing array of conformations. It can be a liquid, vapor, or different kinds of solids. Scienti ...
NOV 16, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Modeling the Separation of Liquids in Cells
NOV 16, 2021
Modeling the Separation of Liquids in Cells
Oil and water are both liquids, but they don't mix well, demonstrating a phenomenon known as liquid-liquid phase separat ...
Loading Comments...