Archive for the ‘RSC Advances’ Category

Sweet as sugar, hard as carbon: A hierarchical core-shell 3D graphene network biosensor for glucose detection

A biosensor is a device that uses biological molecules, typically enzymes, to specifically detect the presence of a chemical or a metabolic intermediate (referred to as the analyte) in a diagnostic setting. A biosensor acts as the platform upon which a biochemical reaction, initiated by the analyte, is converted to an electric current that is accurately quantified during a subsequent step. Biosensors have wide clinical applicability. For instance, the detection of blood sugar, which is among the most frequently measured physiological variable, is achieved with biosensors.

Recent years have seen rapid advancements in the use of nanoparticles, nanowires and nanotubes as biosensor platforms. These innovative nanostructures are electrochemically active, chemically stable, have large surface areas and are biocompatible – all of which are desirable attributes for developing biosensors. Of note is the observation that graphene, a substance known for its high electrical conductivity,  lends itself to biosensor development due to its relative ease of manufacture together with its ability to form composites with other electrochemically active nanostructures.

Early prototypes of graphene-based biosensors were inefficient for two main reasons. First, the clumping of graphene sheets reduced the accessible surface area. As a consequence, the biosensor/analyte interface was greatly reduced. Second, the restacking of graphene sheets introduced electrical resistance due to intersheet contacts. To overcome these hurdles, a research group led by Azam Iraji Zad at the Institute for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (INST), Tehran, Iran developed a freestanding, porous 3D graphene network (3DGN) which was further modified with metal oxide nanostructures as a platform upon which an enzymatic reaction could occur.

This proof-of-concept study uses the glucose oxidase enzyme for the rapid and selective detection of glucose. The 3DGN, a graphene skeleton with multiple pores, is the core of the nanostructure. Atop the 3DGN, the researchers first grew uniformly spaced ZnO nanorods, which served to hold the enzyme in place. In a subsequent step, MnO2, known to be biocompatible and stable, was deposited onto the ZnO nanorods, thus forming a multilayered hierarchical structure with an average diameter of 100nm. The researchers propose that that the complex architecture of the nanostructure serves to facilitate the electron transfer process, which is the fundamental biochemical mechanism driving the enzymatic reaction.

In principle, the inner parts of the ZnO nanotubes increase the accessible surface area of the nanostructure and enhance the biosensor/analyte interface. In theory, the 3DGN biosensor is expected to respond quicker and have improved sensitivity when compared to other enzyme-based glucose detection devices. The study tested the 3DGN biosensor using a method called amperometry which is used routinely in research laboratories to detect ions – the byproduct of enzymatic reactions. The study found that the 3DGN biosensors had a response time of less than 3 seconds; a value indicative of a competitive advantage over other enzyme-based glucose biosensors. Intriguingly, the study also found that the 3DGN was very sensitive and could detect extremely low concentrations (10nM) of glucose.

The study strongly suggests that 3DGN biosensors could be used as an accurate sensing platform for chemicals and biomolecules. The findings further support the argument that composite nanostructures with complex architecture could find applicability in human health and beyond.

Read the full article here:

Elham Asadian, Saeed Shahrokhian and Azam Iraji Zadac
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RSC Supramolecular Chemistry Award for Editor-in-Chief Mike Ward

Each year the Royal Society of Chemistry presents prizes and awards to chemical scientists who have made a considerable contribution in their area of research, in industry and academia. This year, we are delighted to announce that RSC Advances Editor-in-Chief, Professor Mike Ward of the University of Sheffield, UK, has been awarded the 2016 RSC Supramolecular Chemistry Award, for his leading contributions to the synthesis, characterisation, host-guest chemistry and functional properties of self-assembled coordination cages.

The Supramolecular Chemistry Award is awarded biennially and recognises studies leading to the design of functionally useful supramolecular species.

In celebration of the 2016 RSC Prizes and Awards, we have collected together some of the research recently published by the winners. This collection showcases articles authored by the winners from across the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journals portfolio, which are free to access for a limited period. A full list of 2016 winners and more information about RSC Prizes and Awards can be found here.

Please join us in congratulating Mike on this achievement!

We would like to highlight the RSC Advances themed collection, Supramolecular chemistry: self-assembly and molecular recognition, Guest Edited by Mike Ward.

The articles in this issue cover many aspects of the formation of, and molecular recognition with, non-covalent self-assembled systems. Systems studied span the range of supramolecular assemblies from MOFs to gels, and potential applications or functional behaviour that are on display here include host/guest chemistry, spin crossover, molecular sensors, and extraction/separation. This collection of articles powerfully illustrates the diversity and increasing importance of supramolecular chemistry.

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The heat is on: cancer-drug loaded nanoparticles for photothermal therapy

Photothermal therapy is an emerging area of cancer treatment. Here, a photothermal agents, often nanoparticles (NPs) with a resonance peak in the 700-1200nm range, are delivered to the tumor site and are subsequently activated by light in the Near Infrared (NIR) range. As a consequence, tumor cells are thermally ablated.

In a study led by Xiaolin Li and colleagues at the Key Laboratory for Thin Film and Microfabrication and Changzheng Hospital in China, scientists used SiO2@Au core-shell NPs chemically conjugated via PEGylation to graphene oxide (GO) in conjunction with a chemotherapeutic agent to target prostate cancer cells in vitro. Using the chemotherapeutic agent Docetaxel (Dtxl),  which is among the leading front line treatments for patients diagnosed with prostate cancer, the team demonstrated that Dtxl-loaded SiO2@Au@GO NPs, when activated with light in the NIR range, significantly curbed the survival of DU145 prostate cancer cells.

While SiO2@Au core-shell NPs have been used previously by other research groups to study their ability to remove tumors, Li’s team fabricated SiO2@Au@GO NPs to take advantage of their relatively low cost, large specific surface area, and efficient loading and delivery of water-soluble aromatic drug molecules. This one-two punch strategy was realized via a double shell, multifunctional approach: the inner core SiO2@Au NPs served as a photothermal inducer to bring about cellular cytotoxicity; the outer GO NPs carried the antitumor drug, Dtxl. The study found that exposing DU145 cells to the NPs alone for 24h did not result in overt cell death, suggesting that the NPs have a good safety profile. Importantly, the study showed that when NP-treated cell cultures were irradiated with a 780nm NIR laser, there was a significant decline in viable cells over a 24h period.

The study demonstrates that Dtxl-loaded SiO2@Au@GO NPs could be manufactured and potentially used an an antitumor agent for the treatment of prostate cancer. Moreover, these findings illuminate the untapped potential of NP-based photothermal agents as adjuvant agents in oncology clinical trials in the near future.

Read the full article here:

Xiaolin Li,   Zhi Yang,   Nantao Hu,   Liying Zhang,   Yafei Zhang and   Lei Yin
DOI: 10.1039/C6RA03886G
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Supramolecular cages for chemical weapons

The research of RSC Advances Chief Editor Mike Ward focussing on the development of supramolecular cages that trap chemical weapon stimulants, has been highlighted in Chemistry World.

Mike and his team at Sheffield University have developed new supramolecular cages that exploit the hydrophic effect and bind alkyl phosphonates inside. These phosphonates are very similar to organophosphorous chemical weapons. Cobalt or cadmium dications form the cage vertices and bis(pyrazolyl-pyridine) ligands run along each edge, forming a hydrophobic centre lined with CH groups. So, in water, the phosphonate hydrophobic alkyl tails are attracted to the inside of the cage. Whats more, the cage is luminescent and this luminescence reduces when alkyl phosphonate enters, meaning that the cages can also be used to signal the presence of chemical weapons.

The supramolecular structure

To find out more, read the full Chemistry World article based on this paper:

Binding of chemical warfare agent simulants as guests in a coordination cage: contributions to binding and a fluorescence-based response
Christopher G. P. Taylor, Jerico R. Piper and Michael D. Ward
Chem. Commun., 2016
DOI: 10.1039/C6CC02021F

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Hitching a ride: recombinant DNA delivery into mammalian cells via nanoparticle-based vehicles

Transfection is the process of introducing genetic material, typically DNA, into mammalian cells. This technique has proven indispensable in understanding signaling networks that govern cellular function. To better understand the function of a given protein, molecular biologists routinely transfect cells with DNA (i.e. recombinant DNA). This enters cells in culture and subsequently encodes the specific protein under study. The recombinant DNA is combined with a transfection reagent, typically Lipofectamine, to facilitate its entry into cells.

A study conducted by Neuhaus and colleagues, at the Inorganic Chemistry and Center for Nanointegration (CeNIDE) in Germany, utilizes calcium phosphate nanoparticles (CPNPs) as vehicles to deliver recombinant DNA into cells. CPNPs have previously been shown to spontaneously bind DNA, thus supporting the notion that they could be used as transfection agents. The approach requires that CPNPs first be mixed with a buffer containing recombinant DNA before being added to cultures containing actively growing mammalian cells.

Despite its simplistic approach, the transfection process in general has a few technical limitations. First, not all cells in culture uptake the recombinant DNA. This leads to reduced transfection efficiency. Second, the transfection efficiency is strongly influenced by the cell type (i.e. distinct cell forms within a species). And third, cells interpret recombinant DNA as ‘foreign’ genetic material and trigger alarms which culminate in cell death.

Images demonstrating the uptake of green flourescent nanoparticles by different cell types

To better assess the utility of CPNPs as transfection agents, the study’s authors first transfected ten different cell types with DNA. The DNA in their study encoded a protein that fluoresces green when excited at a specific wavelength. Using Lipofectamine as a comparator reagent, the study assessed the transfection efficiency of CPNPs by measuring the proportion of cells that glowed green under a fluorescent microscope. The study also highlighted the differences in transfection efficiencies between different cell types. The authors propose that CPNPs represent promising candidates as transfection agents and therefore warrant further study.

Clinical trials utilizing nucleotide-based targeted therapies for multiple human diseases are on the rise. CPNPs may represent the new breed of nucleotide-based drug delivery agents in the years to come.

Read the full article here:

Nanoparticles as transfection reagents: a comprehensive study with ten different cell lines
Bernhard Neuhaus,  Benjamin Tosun, Olga Rotan, Annika Frede, Astrid M. Westendorf and Matthias Epple
RSC Adv., 2016,6, 18102-18112
DOI: 10.1039/C5RA25333K

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Introducing the organic chemistry collection

This organic chemisty collection has been collated by Editorial Board member Professor Russell Cox (Leibniz University Hannover, Germany). It brings together articles with the continued aim of inspiring new authors to submit their best work to the journal, and also to highlight great work by regular authors. These articles are already among the most highly cited works in the journal, illustrating their impact.

The subject areas of the articles include those traditionally regarded as organic, such as synthesis, catalysis, heterocyclic and organometallic chemistry, natural products chemistry and method development. In addition, the collection also includes articles from overlapping areas, such as green chemistry, fuel production, ionic solvents and materials chemistry, where there is a strong organic and biological component. Underpinning all are theoretical and computational studies. Finally, emerging areas, including photovoltaics and chemical biology, have strong organic chemistry foundations and also find a natural home in this RSC Advances collection.

This selection aims to illustrate the breadth, depth and impact of papers published in RSC Advances in the area of organic chemistry and stimulate new submissions in these and allied areas.

The collection contains reviews, communications and full papers, all of which can be found here.

Credit: Recent advances in 4(3H)-quinazolinone syntheses, 10.1039/C4RA00351A

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Thomson Reuters Research Excellence – India Citation Award: Congratulations to Dr Vandana Bhalla!

We are delighted to report that RSC Advances Associate Editor Dr Vandana Bhalla (Guru Nanak Dev University) has become the first woman scientist in India to receive a Thomson Reuters Research Excellence – India Citation Award, at a ceremony held on 18 September 2015 in New Delhi, India.

This prestigious award is to presented every three years to 10 highly influential scientists and researchers in India, for their outstanding and pioneering work, and their influential contribution to global research.

Dr Bhalla has recently joined RSC Advances as an Associate Editor in the area of supramolecular chemistry, and we look forward to receiving your submissions in this area.

Dr Vandana Bhalla

Dr Vandana Bhalla (center) receives her 2015 Thomson Reuters Research Excellence – India Citation Award

Here are a few of Dr Bhalla’s recent publications in RSC Advances:

Fluorescent aggregates of AIEE active triphenylene derivatives for the sensitive detection of picric acid
Harshveer Arora, Vandana Bhalla and Manoj Kumar
RSC Adv., 2015,5, 32637-32642
DOI: 10.1039/C5RA04337A, Paper

Silver nanoparticles: facile synthesis and their catalytic application for the degradation of dyes
Kamaldeep Sharma, Gurpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Manoj Kumar and Vandana Bhalla
RSC Adv., 2015,5, 25781-25788
DOI: 10.1039/C5RA02909K, Paper

Rhodamine appended hexaphenylbenzene derivative: through bond energy transfer for sensing of picric acid
Radhika Chopra, Vandana Bhalla, Manoj Kumar and Sharanjeet Kaur
RSC Adv., 2015,5, 24336-24341
DOI: 10.1039/C5RA00436E, Paper

Facile synthesis of gold nanoparticles using aggregates of pentacenequinone derivative and their catalytic activity for oxidative polymerization, homocoupling and reduction
Kamaldeep Sharma, Vandana Bhalla and Manoj Kumar
RSC Adv., 2014,4, 53795-53800
DOI: 10.1039/C4RA11116H, Paper

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Subject Area & Keyword selection during your manuscript submission

Our new peer review process for RSC Advances means that you can be sure your work will be in the safe hands of an expert, every step of the way.

To help ensure that your manuscript will be assigned to an appropriate Associate Editor, we’re now asking you, our authors, to select a Subject Area and Keyword during the manuscript submission process online.

During the submission of your manuscript, simply use the drop-down menu, as shown below, to pick the Subject Area and Keyword that best describes your work.

Subject Area and Keyword selection

Submit your manuscript online now!

For pre-submission queries, please feel free to send us an email.

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International Conference on Clean Energy and Advanced Materials (ICCEAM)

The International Conference on Clean Energy and Advanced Materials (ICCEAM) will be taking place from the 14–17th November in Chongqing, China. The ICCEAM will consist of plenary lectures, invited talks, short talks and posters.

Clean energy and advanced materials have become a worldwide focus, due to energy demands and environmental pollution. The ICCEAM is a multidisciplinary international conference exploring new green energy and novel materials for energy conversion/storage, biosensors, biomedicine etc. It will provide an academic exchange platform to discuss the challenges, solutions and perspectives of green energy and advanced materials for global needs, as well as the new opportunities for green energy/advanced materials commercialization.

ICCEAM Conference Chongqing ChinaTopics to be covered during the conference include:

Energy Materials & Clean Energy
     – Organic and inorganic photovoltaics
     – Batteries and supercapacitors
     – Fuel cells
     – Hydrogen generation and storage
     – Water splitting and photocatalysis
     – Solar fuels and thermosolar power
 Biosensors
     – DNA chips, nucleic acid sensors and aptasensors
     – Enzyme-based biosensors
     – Immunosensors
     – Lab-on-a-chip
     – Microfluidics and immobilisation technology
     – Printed biosensors and microfabrication
     – Proteomics, single-cell analysis and cancer-cell detection
 New materials for biomedicine
     – Controlled-release systems
     – Microcapsules
     – Targeted drug delivery
     – Vesicles and macromolecular conjugates
 Industrialization of clean energy and advanced materials

The Chair of the conference is Professor Changming Li (Southwest University, China, and RSC Advances Editorial Board member). For more details about the conference and to register, please visit the website: http://www.2014icceam.com

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Nanofair 2014 – 10th International Nanotechnology Symposium

The 10th International Nanotechnology Symposium Nanofair 2014 – will be held at the International Congress Center Dresden, Germany between the 1st-3rd July 2014.

The theme for Nanofair 2014 is “New ideas for industry” and will provide a forum for presenting current research and exchanging ideas and information between scientists and engineers for industry, research laboratories and academia.  Contributions presented at the conference will cover fundamental scientific aspects as well as application orientated research and development.  Specific topics include:

  • Functional nanocomposites
  • Nanostructured surfaces
  • Nanomaterials for life sciences
  • Nanomaterials for energy applications
  • Nanoelectronics & photonics
  • Processing aspects of nanomaterials
  • Nanoanalytical methods
  • Carbon nanotubes & graphene

In addition, the 2nd Dresden Nanoanalysis Symposium of the Dresden Centre for Nanoanalysis will be held as part of nanofair 2014 on the 2nd July.  This international symposium will provide highlights in the field of nanoanalysis and its applictions in materials science and engineering, advanced electronics, energy research and other branches.

Registration deadline is the 6th June 2014 – click here to register today.

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