Rutgers University Researchers Create Tiny Chemical Cages To Enclose Drug, Pesticide Molecules

Tiny chemical cages created by researchers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, show potential for delivering drugs to organs or tissues where they’re needed without causing harm elsewhere. These cage-like molecules, called nanocontainers or nanoscale capsules because they measure a mere 3.2 nanometers (billionths of a meter) wide, also could make pesticides less hazardous to handle, filter toxic substances out of wastewater and regulate the pace of reactions in chemical production. “While the concept of chemical cages is not new, we’ve created new components and advanced the assembly process to increase the chance that they’ll become practical,” said Ralf Warmuth, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers and lead researcher. “We’ve shown a way to securely link molecules together in a cage using an efficient, one-step process.” In an article slated for an upcoming issue of the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, now available on the journal’s Web site at, Warmuth and colleagues describe how they’ve used common organic chemicals and straightforward techniques to create nanocontainers. These octahedral (eight-sided) capsules, with their cavity volume of almost two cubic nanometers, could enclose one or more molecules of a medicine, pesticide or intermediate in a chemical manufacturing process that, if left uncaged, might prematurely decay or interact with other substances in passing.

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