Using synthetic polymer nanoparticles (plastic antibodies) to capture a peptide toxin in the bloodstream of mice, the scientists were able to demonstrate that these artificial proteins can recognize, capture and neutralize peptide toxins in a living test subject without being inactivated by plasma proteins and/or blood cells.
They are made using an approach called molecular printing - a process similar to leaving a footprint in wet concrete. The scientists mixed melittin - the main toxin in bee venom - with small molecules called monomers, and then started a chemical reaction that links those building blocks into long chains, and makes them solidify. When the plastic dots hardened, the researchers leached the poison out. That left the nanoparticles with tiny toxin-shaped craters.
The nanoparticles show minimal toxicity, Shea says. [...] The MIP nanoparticles and their targeted melittin accumulated in the same cells in the liver, suggesting that the nanoparticles sequester the toxin and that the complex is then cleared from the body by the liver.
Coming soon to a Pacific Garbage Patch near you...