Molecular Nanomachines


Our technology follows the discovery of synthetic machines, for which the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to J-P Sauvage, Sir JF Stoddart, and BL Feringa. These tiny (1 nm) synthetic molecular motors can alter their conformation in a controlled manner in response to external light stimuli. We have optimized and validated a new generation of light-activated unidirectional molecular nanomachines that can perforate cellular membranes by targeting specific cell surface elements and associating with the lipid bilayer. This mechanical molecular action is akin to drilling holes to irreversibly disrupt the plasma membrane to introduce chemical species into cells or expedite cell death processes, such as necrosis. The nanomachines can be further functionalized by synthetically adding specific addends. Thus, tumor specificity can be achieved by actively targeting distinct cell types through specific cell-surface recognition elements and ligand-receptor systems. Collectively, these properties create potent cell-killing machinery that can be used for various applications.