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UCF scientists' molecular discovery could help drugs target unhealthy cells

ORLANDO, Jan. 18, 2007 -- University of Central Florida and University of California Riverside professors are a step closer to being able to deliver life-saving drugs through tiny molecules that would travel through the bloodstream and destroy only cancer-ridden cells.

In a paper published Jan. 18 in Science Express, the scientists describe how they got an adsorbate molecule (anthraquinone) to pick up two carbon dioxide atoms and carry them in a specific direction on a flat copper surface. Their discovery helps scientists understand how they someday may be able to attach therapeutic drugs to molecules.

"It's significant because we wouldn't expect atoms to move that way," said UCF physics professor Talat Rahman, who co-authored the study with Sergey Stolbov. "Atoms tend to move randomly, like dust particles, and getting them to move in a specific direction will help in our understanding and manipulating of the region around atoms."

It's what sci-fi fans have seen on television nanotechnology that sends microscopic creatures to space or the body to make repairs. That sci-fi reality is years away, but this research is a step in that direction.

"Right now the only way we can transport atoms is with instruments," Rahman said. "Being able to control that at a molecular level would help us create a natural transportation system that could aid us in many ways in the future."

Next, the researchers want to see if they can make the molecule carrier go around corners, rotate its cargo or send out photons to let scientists know where it is located.

Rahman worked with Stolbov and UC Riverside Associate Chemistry Professor Ludwig Bartels. Bartels is also a member of the university's Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Rahman, who speaks four languages fluently, has a doctorate from the University of Rochester in New York. She began at UCF as the chair of the Physics Department in September 2006 aft
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Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
zkotala@mail.ucf.edu
407-823-6120
University of Central Florida
18-Jan-2007


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