New Molecular Superglue Was Inspired By Flesh-Eating Bacteria

New Molecular Superglue Was Inspired By Flesh-Eating Bacteria
Arts & Culture

Biochemists created a protein used by bacteria to bind and invade human cells and made a glue that binds molecules together.

Emma Hutchings
  • 24 february 2012

Researchers at Oxford University have developed a really strong superglue that can stick molecules together and not let go. It was inspired by a protein from a type of bacteria that can cause deadly infections like flesh-eating disease. The molecular glue could have many applications in the research lab and the wider scientific community.

Dr. Mark Howarth and graduate student Bijan Zakeri at the Department of Biochemistry developed the superglue by engineering Streptococcus pyogenes, a protein used by bacteria to bind and invade human cells. The protein has a 3D structure with strong chemical bonds that form in an instant and bind together with exceptional strength. The biochemists engineered the protein to split and reform, nicknaming the larger fragment ‘SpyCatcher’ and the shorter protein segment, ‘SpyTag’. Once they get hold of each other, they never let go, and will stick together in test tube reactions or inside cells, without sticking to other things.

The ability to attach SpyCatcher and SpyTag onto other molecules you want to glue together could have many applications. For example, sticking all the enzymes involved in a chemical process into a small factory could speed reactions and increase yields. Or you might want to bring all the elements together that plants use to turn sunlight into energy with only water as a waste product. Scientists have long wanted to come up with ways of achieving photosynthesis artificially for useable green energy.

Oxford University

Arts & Culture

Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Arts & Culture Today

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world

Retail Today

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee


Get PSFK's Related Report: Design Debrief: Modern Desk

See All
Travel Today

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Related Expert

Archie Lee Coates

Redefining Cities and Play

Mobile Today

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Today

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture

Retail Today

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

PSFK Labs Today

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Food Today

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Travel Today

Melbourne Hotel Lets Guests Stay In Their Own Chrome Airstream Trailers

Notel is a luxury rooftop with six guest rooms made from vintage 1970s mobile homes

Infants Today

Battery Powered Cradle Will Rock Itself

NoomiNoomi is a clever device that makes it easier to put babies to sleep

Sustainability Today

Swedish Citizens Get A Tax Break For Repairing Old Goods

A sustainability initiative encourages people to fix, rather than replace, broken objects

Fitness & Sport Today

How Precision Data Can Make Anyone A Better Performer

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytic tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Home Today

You Can Now Buy Furniture From A Daytime TV Show

Home furnishing online retailer Wayfair is partnering with Lifetime to create a shoppable life improvement television program

Social Media Today

Instagram Tool Prevents People From Harming Themselves

A new anonymous reporting option on the social media platform hopes to provide better emotional support for users

No search results found.