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Sandia researchers discover way to see how a drug attaches to a cell

Sandia National Laboratories researchers John Shelnutt and Yujiang Song have discovered a better way to see where a drug attaches to a cell through a new process that produces novel hollow platinum nanostructures.

The research will appear as a paper in an upcoming issue of the German chemical journal Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. In advance of publication, it is featured as a short "hot paper" on the journal's web site.

Sandia is a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory.

In their paper Shelnutt and Song describe a new way of producing porous, nanoscopic, hollow platinum spheres by using liposomes as blueprints. (Liposomes are microscopic, fluid-filled pouches that are used to deliver certain vaccines, enzymes, or drugs to the body.)

In earlier work, Shelnutt's group grew large continuous nanosheets of platinum on liposome templates, forming foam-like platinum nanostructures. This method provided no way to control shape and size.

The new method reported in the paper uses a different technique to produce porous platinum nanocages with diameters up to 200 nm. Instead of large sheets, they consist of many small flat-branched platinum structures - called dendrites - which join together in a network or cage in the shape of the spherical liposome.

The liposome that Shelnutt and his team used as a blueprint consists of a double layer of lipid (detergent) molecules. The liposomes are placed in a solution containing a platinum salt. When these liposomes are irradiated with light, photocatalysts located in the narrow space between the two layers of the lipid transfer electrons to the platinum ions. The uncharged platinum atoms gather into tiny metal clumps. Once they reach a certain size, they also become active and catalyze the dendrite growth by adding more platinum atoms from the platinum salt.

Little by little, small, flat, platinum dendrites form within the double lipid layer.

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Source:DOE/Sandia National Laboratories


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