Molecule Controls Worms With The Flip Of A Switch | October 19, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 42 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 42 | p. 36 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 19, 2009

Molecule Controls Worms With The Flip Of A Switch

Photoswitchable materials could inspire the design of easy-to-deliver drugs
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: JACS In C&EN
Keywords: molecular switch, photoswitching
UV light converts the photoswitchable molecule from a colorless, ring-open form to a blue, ring-closed form, paralyzing C. elegans worms in the process.
Credit: J. Am. Chem. Soc.
8742scon_fig
 
UV light converts the photoswitchable molecule from a colorless, ring-open form to a blue, ring-closed form, paralyzing C. elegans worms in the process.
Credit: J. Am. Chem. Soc.
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UV light converts the photoswitchable molecule from a colorless, ring-open form to a blue, ring-closed form.
8742scon_img1a
 
UV light converts the photoswitchable molecule from a colorless, ring-open form to a blue, ring-closed form.

Photoswitchable materials could inspire the design of easy-to-deliver drugs, as demonstrated by Neil R. Branda and coworkers of Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, British Columbia, who have used a bis(pyridinium) dithienylethene compound to induce paralysis in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja903070u). The molecule exists in one of two forms, depending on the wavelength of light it’s been hit with: Ultraviolet light switches it from a colorless, ring-open form to a blue, ring-closed isomer, and visible light causes the ring to reopen. The molecule maintains its photoswitching ability inside C. elegans and can be cycled multiple times. The researcher fed worms the ring-open form and observed that the worms behave normally. When the worms are hit with 365-nm UV light, the molecule converts to the ring-closed form and paralyzes the worms. Shining visible light longer than 490 nm on the worms reverses the paralysis, which is most likely caused by the ring-closed photoisomer disrupting the metabolic electronic pathway involved in energy production, Branda and coworkers note.

 
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