Friday, July 24, 2015

Nanosponges offer protection against chemical weapons

Scheme depicting the detoxification of a nerve agent, DDVP, by a nanosponge, which is a red-blood-cell-coated nanoparticle (RBC-NP). Figure courtesy of Professor Liangfang Zhang and the American Chemical Society. 
These tiny particles can combat poisonous snake bites and antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Now, researchers show these particles can also provide protection against chemical weapons. Nanosponges developed in the lab of NanoEngineering professor Liangfang Zhang at the University of California, San Diego may one day offer a range of new life-saving treatments.

Zhang and his research group recently reported that their nanosponges increased the survival rates of mice exposed to a widely-used insecticide called DDVP, which is a toxic nerve agent. The nanosponges detoxify DDVP molecules in the blood stream by intercepting them before they attack their real targets: red blood cells. Each nanosponge is a nanoparticle coated in a red blood cell membrane. This coating lures DDVP molecules to the nanosponges and inhibits them from causing damage throughout the blood stream. The findings were published in the journal ACS Nano.

Previous studies from Zhang’s research group have demonstrated that nanosponges are also effective at removing a variety of other harmful toxins from the blood stream, such as those produced by MRSA bacteria, E. coli, snake bites and bee stings.

Read more about nanosponges here.

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