In yet another stab at mimicking nature's chemical innovations, scientists have devised a new way to make artificial receptors that differentiate among similar molecules.
Chemists have long admired how precisely antibodies select specific chemicals in complex biological brews. This trait has rendered antibodies useful for a broad range of laboratory experiments and medical tests.
Yet antibodies are costly and have a short shelf life, says Steven Zimmerman of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Artificial molecules that act like antibodies might avoid these problems, so they may open routes to new medical tests, pollution monitors, and chemical weapons detectors, he says.