Chemists at Washington University in St. Louis have created synthetic polymer particles that are as cute as dumplings..
They're called knedels (k-ned-l), after a popular Polish dumpling filled either with meat or sweets. While the Polish knedel is a sumptuous taste treat, the Washington University knedl is a synthetic nano-sized particle that its creators hope someday will be the carrier of drugs or genes for biomedical applications and therapies.
Karen Wooley, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Washington University, recently announced a new breakthrough in the particle that K. Bruce Thurmond, II, a graduate student in Wooley's group, first synthesized in 1996. Wooley and post-doctoral researcher Haiyong Huang, Ph.D., have changed the composition of their knedel's core from a glassy to a rubbery substance similar to the interior of a golf ball. Additionally, this core can be hollowed out, creating a capsule into which large amounts of drugs -- or DNA, for gene therapy -- may be loaded for delivery.
Huang presented a talk on the advance at the Spring Meeting of the American Chemical Society, March 29, in Dallas, TX.
"They're like golf ball molecules in this form" says Wooley. "This advance moves us along in our goal of making knedels potential drug- and gene- carrying systems. It makes the particle a lot more versatile and the rubbery core should allow a higher loading capacity We've gotten lots of interest in the knedels, for their potential, they're novelty, and their name."
The work is funded by the National Science Foundation and Monsanto Company, St. Louis.
Wooley and her colleagues recently have been focusing on the knedel's
water-soluble shell that allows them to bind DNA to its surface. This in turn
causes small aggregates to form that protect the genetic material from being
digested by enzymes. The chemists charge the shell positively so the knedel
attracts DNA, which has a negative charge.
Contact: Tony Fitzpatrick
Washington University in St. Louis