Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Pore Pattern
28 January 2013

Pore Pattern

The inner workings of living organisms have inspired all kinds of new man-made materials. Naturally-occurring drugs can be analysed for their chemical structures and then mimicked in the lab; ingenious biological structures are being carefully examined and their designs put to new uses. Pictured is a sheet of phospholipids – a bendy material that covers our cells with tiny pores, letting nutritious chemicals in and keeping harmful ones out. Superimposed over this microscope picture (with porous areas highlighted in orange), is a computer simulation showing how chemical bonds pull the flower-shaped pores (each 15 million times smaller than a daffodil) into a hexagonal pattern or ‘lattice’. Porous phospholipids might one day be moulded into tiny containers designed to release drugs precisely into diseased cells in the body.

Written by John Ankers

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