Magazine article USA TODAY

Immobilized Enzymes Can Check Bioterrorism. (Materials)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Immobilized Enzymes Can Check Bioterrorism. (Materials)

Article excerpt

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., have successfully immobilized enzymes while simultaneously enhancing their activity and stability, opening up new possibilities for using tailored nanoporous materials. The findings could enable the development of novel sensor and decontamination systems for homeland security, environmental protection, and energy generation as well as new industrial chemicals and separations.

"For decades, scientists have been searching for ways to immobilize soluble enzymes with a variety of solid materials. But the results have been disappointing because only small amounts of the immobilized enzymes show any biological activity," says molecular biologist Eric Ackerman. "For the first time, we have immobilized an enzyme at high concentrations in a way that actually enhances its stability and activity."

In lab tests, scientists nearly doubled the activity levels of an enzyme called organophosphorus hydrolase, known for its potential for biosensing and decontaminating poisonous agents. "By using different highly active and stable immobilized enzymes, we could potentially make enzymatic systems to inactivate certain chemicals or bioweap-ons, thus serving as a protective barrier in air filtration systems," indicates Ackerman. …

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