Bad buckyball! Baaaaad!


It turns out buckyballs might be toxic.  That’s might be toxic, in the same way that oxygen might be necessary to live.

Scientists already realized buckyballs could be toxic. Studies at Duke University in 2004 showed that when buckyballs were introduced to laboratory aquariums they damaged the brains of largemouth bass and may also have prevented certain water-borne bacteria from reproducing.

Until then scientists had theorized that the strong attraction that buckyballs have for each other would cause the molecules to clump together and safely sink to the bottom of any body of water, be it a test aquarium or a lake.

. . .

The buckyballs break apart vital hydrogen bonds within the DNA molecule’s double helix and they can stick to grooves on DNA’s surface, causing the molecule to bend. Not only do the buckyballs damage the DNA, Cummings says, they cripple its ability to heal.

“The buckyballs insert themselves in a way that prevents the DNA from self-repairing,” Cummings told LiveScience. The buckyball actually forces a piece of nucleotide from one of the DNA’s double helixes and takes its place, preventing the strands from reuniting.

Ouch.  That sounds bad.  And I’m sure someone will bring up Michael Crichton’s novel Prey, but this isn’t quite the same thing. That book was about nano-particle entities that were bad as a cooperating system, while this article is about a specific nano-particle that happens to be very bad all on it’s own.

[tags]Buckyballs, nano-particles[/tags]