Cottrell College Science Awards - 2015
An Enzyme-Powered Nanomotor Propelled by Chemical Fuels
“Nature has evolved complex mechanisms to drive the migration of cells in response to certain chemicals in the environment,” notes Jinglin Fu, assistant professor of chemistry, Rutgers University – Camden. “For instance, chemotaxis is the process by which bacteria can swim toward a higher concentration of food such as glucose, or flee from poisonous chemicals.”
Fu says that if these systems could be understood and mimicked artificially, it would enable us to create smart delivery systems for drugs that precisely target tumors and inflammation. Most of the current delivery technologies rely on the passive diffusion of molecules or are driven by the body’s circulation systems.
Fu has received a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement to design a nanodevice that moves through the body with power supplied by a process called “catalysis-driven diffusion.” (“Nano” indicates the realm of the vanishingly small – a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)
Specifically, Fu and his students will use the funding to develop “nanoscaffolds” of DNA molecules that catalyze the oxidation of glucose to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), the tiny flow of which will propel the DNA nanostructure. “The nanodevice is expected to move along an increased glucose concentration,” Fu says, “thus mimicking natural chemotaxis, and deliver molecular cargoes.”