Feeds

Scientists send Buckyballs to detox

Taking the sting out of venomous footballs

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.