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Researchers are developing nano-capsules that produce specific metabolic molecules


Nano capsules lead to the production of glucose-6-phosphate
Experts from the University of Basel have succeeded in developing nano-capsules that can be used to produce the so-called biomolecule glucose-6-phosphate in cells. Glucose-6-phosphate plays a crucial role in metabolic processes. The nano-capsules could develop new possibilities for the treatment of various diseases in the future.

The scientists at the University of Basel have developed capsules measuring just a few nanometers. With the help of these capsules, the researchers are able to produce a biomolecule called glucose-6-phosphate, the university reports in a press release on the results of the study. It was published in the chemical communications magazine.

Biomolecules affect metabolism
The metabolism in humans and animals is influenced by a large number of biomolecules. The molecules involved usually arise in the body through a so-called enzyme reaction, the experts explain. Glucose-6-phosphate is a very important biomolecule for many crucial metabolic processes in the body.

What is glucose-6-phosphate?
Glucose-6-phosphate plays a crucial role in the breakdown of carbohydrates and the biomolecule can also be converted into specific molecules that are responsible for the energy storage of humans and animals, the researchers explain. If scientists could produce such biomolecules directly in the living cells, this would create new opportunities and perspectives for the treatment of various diseases. And it is precisely in this production that the synthetic capsules could be of great importance when it comes to production in living cells, the experts add.

Synthetic capsules can produce glucose-6-phosphate
The scientists at the University of Basel succeeded in producing synthetic capsules that are able to produce glucose-6-phosphate and also release this biomolecule. The nano-capsules use a catalyst that contains the enzyme phosphoglucomutase, explain the doctors.

Capsules contain a so-called pore protein
In order to achieve a desired reaction, the starting substance must be able to get inside the capsule so that it can be converted by the enzyme, the researchers explain. In their study, the scientists inserted a pore protein into the capsule's membrane. The pore protein used for this was previously synthesized at ETH Zurich. The pores of the protein form a kind of entrance door for the substance and are also the exit for the biomolecule glucose-6-phosphate, while the enzyme is encapsulated and protected against degradation.

Developed capsules are only about 200 nanometers in size
The nano-capsules developed by the scientists are very small and have a size of around 200 nanometers. This is so tiny that the capsules are even able to be absorbed by the cells of a living being. The ability of the capsules is a very important prerequisite for future test procedures and applications, the study authors explain.

The capsules should resemble their natural environment
In their current research, the scientists developed the new capsules under conditions that closely resemble the environment in naturally occurring cells. "Our approach is always to get as close to nature as possible so that we can preserve the intrinsic functionality of the enzymes and pore proteins," explains author Prof. Dr. Cornelia Palivan from the University of Basel. Other approaches to this topic included, for example, the use of so-called organic solvents.

More research is needed
In the future, further research work should consider the test of the capsules on cells. The experts added that this could be used to check whether the capsules were taken up and then begin to produce the desired biomolecule glucose-6-phosphate in the cell. (as)

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