Navigation Links
New nano-tool synthesized at Scripps Research Institute

La Jolla, CA, April 13, 2010 -- Two chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have synthesized a new nano-scale scientific tool a tiny molecular switch that turns itself on or off as it detects metallic ions in its immediate surroundings.

Featured on the cover of the April 19, 2010 issue of the International Edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie, this molecule may be useful as a laboratory tool for controlling tiny reactions in the test tube, and it has potential to be developed as the basis of a new technology that could sensitively detect metals, toxins, and other pollutants in the air, water, or soil.

The molecule is named "ouroborand" after the mythical Ouroboros ("tail-eater" in Greek) a lizard-like creature that swallows itself head-to-tail. In mythology, the cyclic Ouroboros is always depicted with its tail in its mouth and this is usually taken as a symbol of eternity. In the Scripps Research laboratory where it was invented, the ouroborand molecule alternatively swallows or coughs out its taillike a switch that goes on or off as it senses metals.

This switching is possible because the molecule has a cup-like head at one end and a tail at the other. The tail can curl around and plug the cup just like the lizard swallowing its own tail.

"When no metals are present, the molecule's tail is held within its cavity at the other end," says Julius Rebek, Ph.D., who is the director of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.

In the presence of zinc or other metal ions, the part of the molecule that links the head and the tail curls around the metal ions and pulls the head and the tail apart, springing the molecule open, says Rebek. Remove the metal, and the tail will move again to plug the other end of the molecule.

When Rebek and his postdoctoral fellow Fabien Durola synthesized the molecule and decided to name it ouroborand, they made a return of sorts to the dreams of chemists and alchemists long ago. In Medieval times and through the Renaissance, the mythical Ouroboros was a symbol used in alchemy, the ancient practice that was a forerunner to modern chemistry.

The spirit of this symbol later briefly carried over into modern chemistry as well. More than a century ago, the famous German chemist August Kekule had a dream about a serpent with its tail in its mouth, and this inspired him to propose the correct, circular structure of the compound benzene, a commonly used industrial solvent.


Contact: Keith McKeown
Scripps Research Institute

Related biology news :

1. Scripps Research scientists solve mystery of fragile stem cells
2. Scripps research team reveals how an old drug could have a new use for treating river blindness
3. Scripps Research scientists find two compounds that lay the foundation for a new class of AIDS drug
4. Scripps Research scientists create new way to screen libraries of 10 million or more compounds
5. Scripps Research team wins global race to achieve landmark synthesis of perplexing natural product
6. Scripps Florida scientists show lifeless prions capable of evolutionary change and adaptation
7. Scripps research team develops technique to determine ethnic origin of stem cell lines
8. Scripps Research scientists crack mystery of proteins dual function
9. Scripps Research team uncovers chemical basis for extra quality control in protein production
10. Scripps research scientists find new link between insulin and core body temperature
11. Scripps-led study shows ocean health plays vital role in coral reef recovery
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... von Nepal hat ... Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, Registrierung ... in der Produktion und Implementierung von Identitätsmanagementlösungen. ... Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur wurde ...
(Date:6/2/2016)...   The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: ... capability in which consumers will be able to interact with ... via voice or text and receive relevant information about the ... Marketers have long sought an advertising solution that can create ... relevant and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... -- Favorable Government Initiatives Coupled With Implementation ... to Boost Global Biometrics System Market Through 2021  ... " Global Biometrics Market By Type, By End ... - 2021", the global biometrics market is projected to ... growing security concerns across various end use sectors such ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech USA ... of a Sponsored Research Agreement with The University ... (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding will be ... correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing ... then be employed to support the design of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed medical journal articles ... findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. ... blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help point doctors to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 A person commits ... the crime scene to track the criminal down. ... U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has ... to support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: