Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have created a molecular cage that can house different molecules for drug-delivery applications.
The cage’s hollow structure, made up of sub-cages, enables researchers to load different molecules and design them to react only when the cages are surrounded by particular environments.
The team’s work was published in Nature Communications.
“We have essentially created a molecular ‘flask’ or better ‘sponge’ that can hold different molecules until a specific set of conditions spark them into life,” lead researcher Wolfgang Schmitt said in prepared remarks. “Hollow cage-type molecular structures have attracted a lot of scientific attention because of these features, but as the number of potential applications has grown and the target systems and environments become more complex, progress has been hampered by the lack of structures with sufficiently large inner cavities and surface areas.”
“The MOP we have just created is among the largest ever made, comprising a number of internal sub-cages, providing numerous different binding sites,” he added. “The nano-sized compartments can potentially change the reactivity and properties of molecules that are encapsulated within the confined inner spaces and, as such, these cages can be used to promote distinct chemical reactions. Thus, these molecules have the potential to mimic biological enzymes.”