Carbonates hold promise for bioreactors
Carbonates could hold the key to new, effective polyelectrolyte biosensors and bioreactors. Radostina Georgieva and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Surfaces, Germany, have conducted the first detailed study of the effects of different salts on a polyelectrolyte capsule. Their work represents a valuable step towards the production of effective biosensors and bioreactors.
Carbonates affect polyelectrolyte capsules (right)
The polyelectrolyte capsules exist as small hollow shells, made from high molecular weight electrolytes of opposite charges. Salts such as chlorides, which are found in typical biological conditions, can interact with the electrolytes to affect the shape and size of the capsules. This change may cause the controlled release of a substance encased within them, such as a pharmaceutical drug or biologically active molecule.
'Surprisingly, strong effects of carbonates were observed even at moderate salt concentrations,' said Georgieva. 'The strong effect of carbonate on the polyelectrolyte system could be exploited for encapsulation of enzymes and other bioactive molecules.'
R. Georgieva et al, J. Mater. Chem., 2005 (DOI: 10.1039/b507848b)