Feeds

Scientists send Buckyballs to detox

Taking the sting out of venomous footballs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Researchers at the Centre for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) have demonstrated a way to dramatically reduce the toxicity of buckyballs.

Earlier this year, Eva Oberdoerster, an environmental toxicologist with Southern Methodist University, found brain damage in fish exposed to the fullerene molecules.

Until her research, scientists had not looked for toxic behaviour at all, expecting that the molecules would just become "part of the muck". Now, the CBEN project has confirmed the toxicity of the molecule, but the researchers have found a way to switch it off.

Buckyballs, named after American architect, Richard Buckminster Fuller, who designed a geodesic dome with essentially the same symmetry, are football (soccer ball) shaped, hollow molecules consisting of 60 carbon atoms. They do occur in nature, but were only discovered, in a lab, in 1985.

The molecule has had a huge impact on materials science, since its discovery, and it has potential application in pharmaceuticals, fuel cells and so on. However, there are concerns about the effect they may have on human and animal health.

The CBEN research looked at plain Buckballs, and Buckyballs with various degrees of surface modification - that is, buckyballs with other molecule attached. According to News-Medical.net, they found that the greater the surface modification, the lower the toxicity.

Vicki Colvin, CBEN director, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, and the principal investigator for the research, explained that there are some cases where the toxicity is useful, such as in treatments for cancer. "In other cases -- like applications where particles may make their way into the environment -- toxicity is undesirable," she added.

The research team stressed that the lab tests were not a reliable indication of how the molecule might behave inside an animal body. In the real world, they explained, other body processes would have to be considered. In addition, the bonds to the modifying molecule can be broken by UV light, limiting the technique's usefulness in the outside world.

The research is to be published in the journal Nano Letters. ®

Related stories

Buckminster Fuller on stamp duty
UK gov awards £1m to bio-terror detector firm
AMD, Infineon to spend $200m on nanotech know-how
Silicon carbide: coming soon to a chip near you
Nanotech aids green hydrogen production

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.