Those nasty viruses that seem to get stronger every year better watch out. They may have a hairy problem soon in the form of hairy nanoparticles created by Francesco Stellacci, a materials scientist at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland.
|Hairy nanoparticles put viruses in a deadly embrace|
Francesco Stellacci is a materials scientist who works in Switzerland at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne. Some nanoparticles that he worked with appeared similar to a protein that sticks to viruses. And that was his inspiration. He suspected that if he could create a new nanoparticle that worked this way, it would grab onto a virus and not let go.
The particle he created is just five nanometers wide. For perspective, a human hair is 2,000 times that width. The particle is made from a tiny crystal of gold. A forest of even tinier threads cover its surface. Those threads are made from carbon-based compounds.
Stellacci’s group tested these tiny particles against a broad range of viruses. And they now report success.
The nanoparticles destroyed common germs like the herpes virus and human papilloma virus. The first triggers a range of symptoms, including cold sores in the mouth. The second is responsible for the most common type of sexually transmitted infection — one that can cause genital warts and even cancer. The hairy spheres also quashed respiratory syncytial (Sin-SISH-ul) virus. It infects the lungs, causing cold-like symptoms — except in babies and the elderly. It can leave them with life-threatening pneumonia.