Feeds

Scientists send Buckyballs to detox

Taking the sting out of venomous footballs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.