Carbon Nanotube Channel – Artificial Channel

carbon nanotube channel making our own pores

An artist rendition how this cell pore would look.

Scientists have created a carbon nanotube channel through the membrane of a cell . This cell “pore” could be used to transport tiny particles like small ions and DNA into a living cell.

Carbon nanotubes is a topic I’ve written about plenty of times. The technology is an exciting prospect in many areas. The medical applications of this engineered molecules is almost limitless. Their nanometer size makes them able to affect even the smallest structures in the body, making them ideal for use at the cellular level. One such area of use is as a carbon nanotube channel moving materials through the cell membrane into human cells.

A Carbon Nanotube Channel

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have constructed an ion channel made up of a tiny carbon nanotube. It’s usable for transporting tiny molecules effectively into cells.

Scientists have tried to emulate cell pores for a long time. The problem have always been to make the channels specific and effective at the same time. Scientists report in the journal Nature that they might have solved this problem by using tiny carbon tubes.

In the study researchers created these synthetic “pores” using  the straw-like carbon nanotubes. Despite having such a simple structure the carbon nanotubes behaved just like a regular ion channel. It inserted into cell membranes and allowed certain molecules through while blocking other. In addition similar to regular cells, changes in potential of the cell membrane affected how effectively material moved through the “pore”.

The findings of the scientist show that there is promise in these tiny carbon molecules in several areas including sensors, cell interfaces and studying transport of small molecules at the cellular level. This channel could be used in medical treatments to only treat damaged or diseased cells avoiding the risk of side effects on healthy cells. Another possible use is using the tiny carbon straw as a part, when building a synthetic cell.

Image Credit: DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Confused? Check out:Nanotechnology For Dummies