January 17, 2006
Creating Functionalized Organic Nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes and buckyballs, made solely of carbon atoms linked to one another, have become a subject of intense study among cancer researchers attempting to develop new nanoscale drug delivery and diagnostic agents. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have developed a method of making similar structures out of more complex organic molecules. The resulting structures give investigators a new set of nanomaterials with a wide variety of physical and chemical properties.
Reporting its work in the journal Angewandte Chemie, a team headed by Jerry Atwood, Ph.D., showed how organic molecules could be coaxed into assembling themselves into hollow nanoscale spheres or tubes. The ultimate shape of the resulting nanocapsule depends on the exact conditions used to assemble these nanocapsules, and the researchers found that they could purposefully convert one shape into another. Most importantly, the investigators showed that these hollow structures were stable in water, a key for their use in biological systems.
Close examination of these nanostructures revealed that there are two discrete microenvironments within the nanotubes. The researchers note that this property could be used to encapsulate more than one type of molecule within a single nanotube and keep them separate from one another. This property could be useful in delivering multiple drugs to the same cell.
This work is detailed in a paper titled, “Toward the isolation of functional organic nanotubes.” An investigator from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom also participated in this study. This paper was published online in advance of publication. An abstract of this paper is not yet available.