Antibody-Drug Delivery System Kills Cancer Cells With Extreme Precision

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: a man-made crystal that can be attached to antibodies and then supercharge them with potent drugs or imaging agents that can seek out diseased cells with the highest precision, resulting in fewer adverse effects for the patient.

However, that is precisely what researchers from the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash University in collaboration with the TU Graz (Austria) have developed: the world’s first metal-organic framework (MOFs) antibody-drug delivery system that has the potential to fast-track potent new therapies for cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases.

Schematic illustration of the new MOF Antibody crystals and their ability to specifically seek out cancer cells to detect them and deliver highly potent drugs with unprecedented precision

The in vitro study showed that when MOF antibody crystals bind to their target cancer cells and if exposed to the low pH in the cells, they break down, delivering the drugs directly and solely to the desired area.

The metal-organic framework, a mixture of metal (zinc) and carbonate ions, and a small organic molecule (an imidazole, a colourless solid compound that is soluble in water) not only keeps the payload attached to the antibody but can also acts as a reservoir of personalised therapeutics. This is a benefit with the potential to become a new medical tool to target specific diseases with customised drugs and optimised doses.

The findings are now published in the world-leading journal Advanced Materials.

Source: https://www.monash.edu/

New Vaccine Uses Bacteria to Trigger an Immune Response

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas are investigating the use of whole-cell vaccines to fight urinary tract infection (UTI), part of an effort to tackle the increasingly serious issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Dr. Nicole De Nisco, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Dr. Jeremiah Gassensmith, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, recently demonstrated the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to encapsulate and inactivate whole bacterial cells to create a “depot” that allows the vaccines to last longer in the body.

Dr. Nicole De Nisco conducts research aimed at understanding the basis for recurring urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women. In her lab, students monitor the growth of various bacteria.

When patients accumulate antibiotic resistances, they’re eventually going to run out of options,” says Dr. Nicole De Nisco, assistant professor of biological sciences in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The resulting study, published online in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Nano, showed that in mice this method produced substantially enhanced antibody production and significantly higher survival rates compared to standard whole-cell vaccine preparation methods.

Vaccination as a therapeutic route for recurrent UTIs is being explored because antibiotics aren’t working anymore,” De Nisco said. “Patients are losing their bladders to save their lives because the bacteria cannot be killed by antibiotics or because of an extreme allergy to antibiotics, which is more common in the older population than people may realize.”

Source: https://news.utdallas.edu/

Electric Cars Soon Less Expensive Than Petrol Vehicles

An international research team has pioneered and about to patent a new filtration technique that could one day slash lithium extraction times and change the way the future is powered. The world-first study, published today in the journal Nature Materials, presents findings that demonstrate the way in which Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) channels can mimic the filtering function, or ‘ion selectivity’, of biological ion channels embedded within a cell membrane.

Inspired by the precise filtering capabilities of a living cell, the research team has developed a synthetic MOF-based ion channel membrane that is precisely tuned, in both size and chemistry, to filter lithium ions in an ultra-fast, one-directional and highly selective manner. This discovery, developed by researchers at Monash University, CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas at Austin, opens up the possibility to create a revolutionary filtering technology that could substantially change the way in which lithium-from-brine extraction is undertaken. This technology is the subject of a worldwide patent application filed in 2019. Energy Exploration Technologies, Inc. (EnergyX) has since executed a worldwide exclusive licence to commercialise the technology.

Based on this new research, we could one day have the capability to produce simple filters that will take hours to extract lithium from brine, rather than several months to years,” said Professor Huanting Wang, co-lead research author and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Monash University. “Preliminary studies have shown that this technology has a lithium recovery rate of approximately 90 percent – a substantial improvement on 30 percent recovery rate achieved through the current solar evaporation process.”

Professor Benny Freeman from the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, commented: “Thanks to the international, interdisciplinary and collaborative team involved in this research, we are discovering new routes to very selective separation membranes. “We are both enthusiastic and hopeful that the strategy outlined in this paper will provide a clear roadmap for resource recovery and low energy water purification of many different molecular species.”

Associate Professor (Jefferson) Zhe Liu from The University of Melbourne explained: “The working mechanism of the new MOF-based filtration membrane is particularly interesting, and is a delicate competition between ion partial dehydration and ion affinitive interaction with the functional groups distributed along the MOF nanochannels. “There is significant potential of designing our MOF-based membrane systems for different types of filtration applications, including for use in lithium-from-brine extraction.”

Source: https://www.monash.edu/

Swarms Of NanoRobots Quickly Clean-up Radioactive Waste

According to some experts, nuclear power holds great promise for meeting the world’s growing energy demands without generating greenhouse gases. But scientists need to find a way to remove radioactive isotopes, both from wastewater generated by nuclear power plants and from the environment in case of a spill. Now, a team of researchers from  the University of Chemistry and Technology and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague, Czech Republic,  reporting in ACS Nano have developed tiny, self-propelled robots that remove radioactive uranium from simulated wastewater.

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The accidental release of radioactive waste, such as what occurred in the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear plant disasters, poses large threats to the environment, humans, and wildlife. Scientists have developed materials to capture, separate, remove and recover radioactive uranium from water, but the materials have limitations. One of the most promising recent approaches is the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) — compounds that can trap specific substances, including radioactive uranium, within their porous structures. Martin Pumera and colleagues wanted to add a micromotor to a rod-shaped MOF called ZIF-8 to see if it could quickly clean up radioactive waste.

To make their self-propelled microrobots, the researchers designed ZIF-8 rods with diameters about 1/15 that of a human hair. The researchers added iron atoms and iron oxide nanoparticles to stabilize the structures and make them magnetic, respectively. Catalytic platinum nanoparticles placed at one end of each rod converted hydrogen peroxidefuel” in the water into oxygen bubbles, which propelled the microrobots at a speed of about 60 times their own length per second. In simulated radioactive wastewater, the microrobots removed 96% of the uranium in an hour. The team collected the uranium-loaded rods with a magnet and stripped off the uranium, allowing the tiny robots to be recycled. The self-propelled microrobots could someday help in the management and remediation of radioactive waste, the researchers say.

Source: https://pubs.acs.org/
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How To Trap CO2 Molecules

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have taken the first images of carbon dioxide molecules within a molecular cage ­­– part of a highly porous nanoparticle known as a MOF, or metal-organic framework, with great potential for separating and storing gases and liquids.

The images, made at the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facilities, show two configurations of the COmolecule in its cage, in what scientists call a guest-host relationship; reveal that the cage expands slightly as the CO2 enters; and zoom in on jagged edges where MOF particles may grow by adding more cages.

This is a groundbreaking achievement that is sure to bring unprecedented insights into how these highly porous structures carry out their exceptional functions, and it demonstrates the power of cryo-EM for solving a particularly difficult problem in MOF chemistry,” said Omar Yaghi, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a pioneer in this area of chemistry, who was not involved in the study.

The team, led by SLAC/Stanford professors Yi Cui and Wah Chiu, described the study  in the journal Matter.

Source: https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/

Smart Materials Built With The Power Of Sound

Researchers have used sound waves to precisely manipulate atoms and molecules, accelerating the sustainable production of breakthrough smart materials.  Metal Organic Frameworks, or MOFs, are incredibly versatile and super porous nanomaterials that can be used to store, separate, release or protect almost anythingPredicted to be the defining material of the 21st century, MOFs are ideal for sensing and trapping substances at minute concentrations, to purify water or air, and can also hold large amounts of energy, for making better batteries and energy storage devices. Scientists have designed more than 88,000 precisely-customised MOFs – with applications ranging from agriculture to pharmaceuticals – but the traditional process for creating them is environmentally unsustainable and can take several hours or even days

Now researchers from RMIT in Australia have demonstrated a clean, green technique that can produce a customised MOF in minutes. Dr Heba Ahmed, lead author of the study published in Nature Communications, said the efficient and scaleable method harnessed the precision power of high-frequency sound waves.

Dr Heba Ahmed holding a MOF created with high-frequency sound waves

MOFs have boundless potential, but we need cleaner and faster synthesis techniques to take full advantage of all their possible benefits,” Ahmed, a postdoctoral researcher in RMIT’s Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory, said. “Our acoustically-driven approach avoids the environmental harms of traditional methods and produces ready-to-use MOFs quickly and sustainably. “The technique not only eliminates one of the most time-consuming steps in making MOFs, it leaves no trace and can be easily scaled up for efficient mass production.

Metal-organic frameworks are crystalline powders full of tiny, molecular-sized holes. They have a unique structuremetals joined to each other by organic linkers – and are so porous that if you took a gram of a MOF and spread out its internal surface area, you would cover an area larger than a football pitch. Some have predicted MOFs could be as important to the 21st  century as plastics were to the 20th.

During the standard production process, solvents and other contaminants become trapped in the MOF’s holes. To flush them out, scientists use a combination of vacuum and high temperatures or harmful chemical solvents in a process called “activation”. In their novel technique, RMIT researchers used a microchip to produce high-frequency sound waves. Co-author and acoustic expert Dr Amgad Rezk said these sound waves, which are not audible to humans, can be used for precision micro- and nano-manufacturing.

At the nano-scale, sound waves are powerful tools for the meticulous ordering and manoeuvring of atoms and molecules,” Rezk said.

Source: https://www.rmit.edu.au/

How To Offer Commercially Attractive Carbon-Capturing

Chemical engineers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  (EPFL ) in Switzerland have designed an easy method to achieve commercially attractive carbon-capturing with metal-organic frameworksMetal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are versatile compounds hosting nano-sized pores in their crystal structure. Because of their nanopores, MOFs are now used in a wide range of applications, including separating petrochemicalsmimicking DNA, and removing heavy metals, fluoride anions, hydrogen, and even gold from waterGas separation in particular is of great interest to a number of industries, such as biogas production, enriching air in metal working, purifying natural gas, and recovering hydrogen from ammonia plants and oil refineries.

The flexible ‘lattice’ structure of metal-organic frameworks soaks up gas molecules that are even larger than its pore window making it difficult to carry out efficient membrane-based separation,” says Kumar Varoon Agrawal, who holds the GAZNAT Chair for Advanced Separations at EPFL Valais Wallis.

Now, scientists from Agrawal’s lab have greatly improved the gas separation by making the MOF lattice structure rigid. They did this by using a novel “post-synthetic rapid heat treatment” method, which basically involved baking a popular MOF called ZIF-8 (zeolitic imidazolate framework 8) at 360°C for a few seconds. The method drastically improved ZIF-8’s gas-separation performance – specifically in ‘carbon capture’, a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. “For the first time, we have achieved commercially attractive dioxide sieving performance a MOF membrane,” says Agrawal.

Source: https://actu.epfl.ch/