Monthly Archives: October 2017

Le Chatelier’s Principle on the Nanoscale

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Photothermal desorption of molecules from plasmonic nanoparticles is an example of a light-triggered molecular release due to heating of the system. However, this phenomenon ought to work only if the molecule–nanoparticle interaction is exothermic in nature. In this study, we compare protein adsorption behavior onto gold nanoparticles for both endothermic and exothermic complexation reactions, and demonstrate that Le Chatelier’s principle can be applied to predict protein adsorption or desorption on nanomaterial surfaces. Polyelectrolyte-wrapped gold nanorods were used as adsorption platforms for two different proteins, which we were able to adsorb/desorb from the nanorod surface depending on the thermodynamics of their interactions. Furthermore, we show that the behaviors hold up under more complex biological environments such as fetal bovine serum.


Online game challenges players to design on/off switch for CRISPR

A team of researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has launched a new challenge for the online computer game Eterna in which players are being asked to design an RNA molecule capable of acting as an on/off switch for the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9.

Molecular biologists will then build and test the actual molecules, based on the most promising designs provided by the players.

A gene editor as powerful as CRISPR could have unexpected effects inside living cells, so it makes sense to turn it off when it’s not needed. In addition, an on/off switch might be able to put CRISPR-influenced genes on a sort of timer, activating and deactivating them on a schedule that could mimic the way we schedule taking doses of drugs.