Researchers develop sugar-coated nanosheets that can target pathogens, according to a study conducted on March 29, 2018.
These nanosheets are ultrathin and self-assembling sheets of synthetic materials that has the potential to selectively target viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. This can be used for the detection or inactivation of pathogens. These nanosheets were created at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry from bio-inspired polymers known as peptoids. On the surfaces of the sheets, simple sugars were presented in a patterned way to bind with specific proteins. These nanosheets can mimic the cell surfaces of human bodies, as human cells are also flat and covered with sugars.
Researchers noted that pathogens bind to sugars on cell surfaces. Therefore, by selecting the right sugars to bind to the nanosheets, the pathogens that are drawn to the sheets can be determined. Also, compared to natural biomolecules, the peptoid nanosheets are more rugged and stable. Another advantage of these nanosheets is that it is made from cheap and easy to make polymers. During the synthesis process itself, the information required by the molecules to assemble into the sheets are programmed into each molecule. The nanosheets are made in a liquid solution.
Since these nanosheets has the potential to protect a person exposed to pathogens, researchers could develop nasal spray containing the pathogen-binding nanosheets. The nanosheets can be used for environmental cleanups to neutralize selective toxins and pathogens. Furthermore, these sheets can be scaled to target viruses such as Ebola and other pathogens.