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Chemists create 'Superbowl' molecule; May lead to better health

In a development that could one day score a touchdown for better health, chemists in Australia have created a "superbowl" molecule that shows promise for precision drug delivery, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Shaped like a miniature football stadium, the molecule is capable of delivering a wide range of drugs ?from painkillers to chemotherapy cocktails ?to specific areas of the body, potentially resulting in improved treatment outcomes and perhaps saving lives, the researchers say.

The molecule also shows promise for a wide range of other applications, including the removal of environmental toxins and aiding in chemical purification procedures, the investigators say. Their study was published in the Dec. 29 print issue of the journal, one of the peer-reviewed publications of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The superbowl molecule belongs to a class of artificial bowl-shaped molecules that were first developed in the 1980s to mimic naturally occurring enzymes, which facilitate molecular synthesis and transport within the body. Over the years, these bowl-shaped molecules have been extensively studied and refined by chemists for their wide range of potential uses, including drug delivery, chemical synthesis and as models for cell and viral behavior. Until now, these molecules have had a very limited carrying capacity.

"The compounds we made are bigger versions of these original bowl molecules," says study leader Michael Sherburn, Ph.D., a chemist with Australian National University in Canberra. "These new molecules have much greater capacity and selectivity than their predecessors and show more promise for wider applications."

"I wanted a name for our compounds which acknowledged this and recognized their larger size and shape," says Sherburn. "'Superbowl' was perfect since it conjures up ?for me at least ?the image of a sports stadium, which the molecule
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