Clemson researchers develop nanotechnology

October 3, 2006
Clemson researchers develop nanotechnology

Picture a spider web coated with sugar. But instead of luring in unsuspecting creatures, this spider web pulls in deadly anthrax spores, rendering them harmless.

Clemson University chemist Ya-Ping Sun and his research team have developed such a countermeasure strategy to weaponized anthrax, a biological agent used by a terrorist or terrorists that killed five Americans in 2001. The Clemson team's findings are published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"For anthrax to be effective, it has to be made into a fine powder that can easily enter the lungs when inhaled. That is what makes it lethal," said Sun. "What we have done is come up with an agent that clings to the anthrax spores to make their inhalation into the lungs difficult."

Anthrax spores are covered with carbohydrates, or simple sugars, that are used to communicate with or attract other biological species. The Clemson team used carbon nanotubes as a platform or scaffolding for displaying sugar molecules that would attract the anthrax spores.

Carbon nanotubes are hollow tubes made of carbon atoms. Typically one-hundred thousandth the thickness of a single human hair, nanotubes are formed from intensely heated carbon. When sugar coated, the carbon nanotubes bind with the anthrax spores, creating clusters that are too large to be inhaled –– stopping their infection and destruction.

Sun said a similar approach using sugar-coated carbon nanotubes to stop the spread of E. coli bacteria was tested successfully in 2004. He sees this new method potentially as a way for first responders to contain anthrax in an office or mailroom setting using a water-based gel, foam or aerosol spray, and he thinks it has potential application on the battlefield in larger quantities.

Source: Clemson University

Explore further: 'Second skin' protects soldiers from biological and chemical agents

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Graphene under pressure

August 25, 2016

Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at the University of Manchester report.

Designing ultrasound tools with Lego-like proteins

August 25, 2016

Ultrasound imaging is used around the world to help visualize developing babies and diagnose disease. Sound waves bounce off the tissues, revealing their different densities and shapes. The next step in ultrasound technology ...

Nanovesicles in predictable shapes

August 25, 2016

Beads, disks, bowls and rods: scientists at Radboud University have demonstrated the first methodological approach to control the shapes of nanovesicles. This opens doors for the use of nanovesicles in biomedical applications, ...

'Artificial atom' created in graphene

August 22, 2016

In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom - for this reason, such electron ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.