A recipe that could mimic miniscule capsules delivering signaling molecules from one place to another in our bodies has been created by researchers from the University of Chicago. The announcement was made by Juan de Pablo, the university’s Institute for Molecular Engineering Liew Family Professor in the journal Nature Chemistry. Just as Ziploc bags, resealable, tiny synthetic packets created by the research team are said to release their contents at the correct moment – in this instance, at the time of exposure to light bearing a particular wavelength. According to the researchers, applications such as medicine could be helped with the use of this technology.

Both Parts of Molecule are Biocompatible and Already Used in Implants

Engineer de Pablo said that the packets the research team created could be used for releasing cleanup chemicals or fertilizers in soils or custom-delivering medicines to specific body parts, if one could imagine. Including University of Massachusetts researchers, the team designed a 10-100 nm-hollow synthetic packet which has an inner and outer rind. Forming a rigid wall, a glassy material represents the inner rind, whereas the outer one is water-soluble. A single molecule links the two polymers. It changes its shape when responding to light.

When changing their shape once the scientists shine light on the packet, the linking molecules soften the glassy material sitting below and allow the packet’s contents to slip out. The packet gets resealed after the light is turned off because the glass solidifies again. Targeted medical treatment is one of the applications imaged by the researchers.