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A “physicochemical” focus on promising therapeutic molecules

Certain polyoxometallates are molecules that show promise for the treatment of cancer or Alzheimer's disease. A team from the Institut de chimie séparative at Marcoule and the University of Regensburg has analyzed their remarkable behavior in aqueous environments with respect to polar surfaces and has found numerous applications in biology as well as materials science.
Published on 23 March 2018

Due to their size and the electrical charges that they carry, polyoxometallates are categorized as nano-ions. Formed from transition metal oxides, they are studied for their antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties, for their ability to prevent the formation of amyloid plaques, and for their transfer properties through phospholipid (cellular) membranes.

Some "large" ions with a low charge density such as iodides (I-), thiocyanates (SCN-) and perchlorates (ClO4-) are called chaotropes because they display weak adsorption on polar uncharged interfaces (such as cell membranes). Using nano-sized multi-atomic ions with delocalized charges, a team from the ICSM has shown that the chaotropic effect was enhanced and that such nano-ions are able to adsorb much more strongly on these same interfaces. 

This "super-chaotropy" offers unique opportunities in the fields of solubilization, the formation of hybrid functional materials, and in biology regarding the production of transmembrane transporters. 

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